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Terrorism & Security

Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria

The attack could be retaliation for Christmas Day attacks on Nigeria's churches, heightening concerns about religious violence between Muslims and Christians.

By Staff writer / December 29, 2011

A destroyed building at the site of a bomb blast at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria, Sunday. A bombing at an Islamic school on Wednesday, may have been in retaliation for the Christmas bombing of the church.

Sunday Aghaeze/AP

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's government is scrambling to restore calm to the religiously-divided country following Christmas Day attacks on churches. An unclaimed attack Wednesday on an Islamic school has raised concerns that Nigerian Christians may be seeking vigilante justice, and religious leaders have entered the fray as well.

"Retaliation is not the answer, because if you retaliate, at what point will it end? Nigeria must survive as a nation," said government spokesman Owoye Azazi on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

The leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria, which represents the country's churches, said the Christmas Day attacks on churches that killed more than 40 people amounted to a "declaration of war" on Nigeria's Christians and that while he did not want to encourage violence, "Christians should protect themselves ... in any way they can" because the government was not doing so, the BBC reports.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, the country's main Muslim cleric, called for calm. He cast Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group claiming responsibility for this and other attacks on Christian and Western targets, as a fringe group unrepresentative of Nigeria's mainstream Muslim population.

"I want to assure all Nigerians that there is no conflict between Muslims and Christians, between Islam and Christianity," said Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, according to BBC.

Nigerian newspaper Vanguard reports that in the same speech, Christian leader Ayo Oritshejafor said that Muslim religious leaders efforts to undermine Boko Haram had been lacking, putting them at fault.

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