UN Wants Nigeria to Protect Civilians Better After 90 Die in Attacks

(Bloomberg) -- The United Nations is concerned about rising sectarian violence in parts of northern Nigeria, its resident coordinator in the West African country said, citing attacks in the past week in which more than 90 people were killed.

The incidents include clashes between rival communities near the northern city of Kaduna in which at least 50 people were killed and an attack by Boko Haram Islamist militants on civilians in the country’s northeast that left about 40 people dead, UN resident coordinator Edward Kallon said Tuesday in an emailed statement.

“These attacks, if unchecked, may reverse the gains made so far in securing lives and property,” said Kallon. “I would like to appeal to the government of Nigeria and security forces in the region to scale up their efforts aimed at protecting civilian communities.”

Nigeria, roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south, experiences period outbursts of sectarian violence. Boko Haram militants have waged a violent campaign since 2009 to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on Africa’s most populous country of almost 200 million people.

Relief organization Norwegian Refugee Council said it was concerned killings in northeastern Nigeria were targeting farmers, putting food security in the region at risk.

“The level of violence registered lately in northeast Nigeria is alarming,” said Anja Riiser, NRC area manager in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. “Farmers have been easy targets. These attacks risk making people too afraid to cultivate their land and may worsen the existing food crisis.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, 75, who will seek a second term in February, has registered some gains in the fight against Boko Haram but the fighters are still waging regular deadly attacks.

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