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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nigeria on alert as US warns of new attacks


Friday's attacks, which killed 150 people, in the city of Damaturu were among the deadliest ever carried out by Boko Haram, an Islamist sect based in the north of Africa s most populous country. The US embassy in Nigeria warned the sect could next strike hotels and other targets in the capital Abuja during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. "Following the recent Boko Haram, aka Nigerian Taliban, attacks in Borno and Yobe State, the US embassy has received information that Boko Haram may plan to attack several locations and hotels in Abuja," the embassy said. Security was stepped up in Abuja, which has been a target of past attacks, including an August 26 suicide bomb at the UN headquarters which claimed 24 lives. Embassy staff were told to avoid the venues and US citizens were urged to exercise "additional caution". As well as normal in-house security checks, police were also deployed to the hotels, while armed soldiers stopped cars driving close to the hotels in the capital and searched their bonnets and trunks. The country s state security services played down the latest threat, arguing that police had been on high alert for three months. "The current threat of attack on the three hotels in Abuja is not news, and for over three months the security services have taken pro-active measures to protect the designated critical facilities and others," the president s security advisor, Andrew Azazi, said in a statement. Some 13,000 policemen and specialist anti-terror squads were nevertheless deployed to mosques and churches and other locations across Abuja on Sunday, police officials said. Worshippers were screened by metal detectors before they entered some churches.

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