Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
Since Friday, the radical Muslim sect known as Boko Haram has killed at least 100 people in Nigeria, and suicide bombs and shooting attacks may continue in the country on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
The Red Cross reported that attacks beginning Friday and over night into Saturday in the Northeastern town of Damaturu killed 63; Red Cross officials upped the number to 100 Sunday and expected it to rise again as tallies from hospitals in the region continued to come in.
“I saw 97 dead bodies in the morgue,” Nigerian journalist Aminu Abubakar told the BBC. “But an official involved in the evacuation told me that he counted 150 dead bodies although some had been taken away by their loved ones.”
This weekend marks a Muslim holiday in Nigeria, Eid al-Adha, and celebrations were planned around the country. But violence beginning Friday, claimed to be carried out by Boko Haram — which reportedly translates as “Western education is sacrilege” — has left festivities subdued and many areas under high alert.
The country’s President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attacks and promised to bring those responsible to justice. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Pope Benedict XVI both called for an end to violence in the area, according to AP.
A Roman Catholic priest told the BBC that roving groups of men were throwing improvised bombs into churches and setting them on fire.
Events at three luxury hotels in the capital Abuja were cancelled after U.S. diplomats said they received intelligence suggesting the sect may be targeting foreigners and Nigerian elite planning on attending events at the Hilton, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton hotels. On Sunday in the city of Maiduguri the group stopped and executed a police inspector who was on his way to pray at a mosque with his family.
The attacks left officials acknowledging the ongoing struggle in oil-rich Nigeria between government authorities and the growing ruthlessness of the sect, which wants to impose strict Shariah law there and is growing stronger in the country's Northern, mostly Muslim states. The weekend's attacks follow deadly car bombings at the end of August, which targeted UN and police buildings.