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The World

November 6, 2011

US: Sect bomb attacks possible in Nigeria

(Continued)

Still, most attacks have targeted Nigeria's arid and impoverished northeast, so any strike against hotels in Abuja would be an escalation that shows the group's ability to strike at will — even against foreigners and its elite.

The warning came as a Nigerian Red Cross official said more than 100 people were killed in a series of attacks Friday in the northeast.

Ibrahim Bulama said he expected the death toll to rise in Damaturu, the capital of rural Yobe state. He said mourners quickly buried some bodies in line with Muslim tradition, making a precise count difficult.

While the hard-hit city remained calm as its Muslim inhabitants celebrated the religious holiday Sunday, army and police units manned roadblocks and streets remained largely empty, Bulama said. The state government announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew for the entire state.

Meanwhile, a police inspector was killed Sunday in Boko Haram's spiritual home of Maiduguri about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of Damaturu. Sect gunmen stopped the officer's car at gunpoint as he neared a mosque to pray with his family, police commissioner Simeon Midenda said.

Gunmen ordered the family away, then shot the inspector, Midenda said.

World leaders from the United Nations to Pope Benedict XVI have called for an end to the violence, though Nigerian officials largely have downplayed the threat. Jonathan has repeatedly said that all countries in the world face terrorism, while others have urged local journalists to exercise restraint in their reporting in the name of patriotism.

Despite the bombings and gun battles in northeast Nigeria, Defense Minister Mohammed Bello told journalists Sunday that "a lot of progress" has been made there.

"I believe our security agencies are doing very well in containing the situation," Bello said.

Nigeria's history, however, shows the government often waits until crises escalate out of control before responding with harsh military crackdowns. In 1980, the government suppressed a radical Muslim sect called the Maitatsine only after its members rioted, with the violence and subsequent crackdown leaving 4,000 dead.

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