- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three north-eastern states of the African country after Islamic extremists took control of a number of villages and towns.
"It would appear that there is a systematic effort by insurgents and terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective resolve," Jonathan said, according to The Associated Press.
Army troops have been ordered to the affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, while politicians have been told to remain at their posts. The announcement was made across Nigeria's radio and television networks, with the president warning that any buildings believed to be housing Islamic extremists would be "torn down."
Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is said to be behind most of the attacks, with reports estimating that terrorists have killed close to 3,000 people in the last few years in the African country. Boko Haram has openly declared that its mission is to drive out all Christians from the North and make Nigeria an Islamic state, subject to Islamic Shariah law. The group has bombed a growing number of churches and repeatedly attacked Christian groups despite the government's attempts to stop the violence.
The Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN) told The Christian Post in April that the U.S. government needs to label the entire Boko Haram organization a terrorist group, rather than only specific members.
"How can you say that Osama bin Laden is a terrorist, but al-Qaida the organization is not?" Laolu Akande, executive director of CANAN, told CP over the phone. "The only reason why the State Department does not want to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization is for political reasons. It flies in the face of logic to say that three leaders in the group are terrorists but the group itself is not a terrorist organization."
CANAN stressed that the threat of Boko Haram is not contained only to Nigeria, and that unless the U.S. State Department stands up against this shadowy organization, it will continue growing as an international threat.
Earlier on Tuesday, BBC News reported that 53 people had been killed and 13 villages burned down in a conflict in the central Benue state, but it was not immediately made clear if those attacks were related to the Islamic conflict or not. Local MP Sule Audu revealed that the deaths were caused by a long-running dispute over land ownership between cattle herders and farmers, creating another challenge for President Jonathan, who was forced to cut short a trip to South Africa to deal with the crisis.