Charlie Hebdo violence in Niger has destroyed at least 70 churches – Report

(A man holds a sign during a protest against Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou's attendance last week at a Paris rally in support of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of More...)(CREDIT: REUTERS/TAGAZA DJIBO)

At least 70 churches were burned to the ground during the "anti-Charlie protests" in the capital of Niger, according to a persecution monitor.

The backlash of the Charlie Hebdo incident in France has spread far and wide. The violent reaction against the publication's controversial cover - the first after a terrorist attack on its offices killed 12 - escalated quickly and reached as far as the former French colony.

According to reports from BBC, at least five people were killed in Niamey. So far, more than 170 people were injured.

The protests started on January 16 at the city of Zinder. The violence quickly spread to nearby areas and then reached the capital. In just two days, ten people died and 45 churches were burned down. But additional reports obtained by the World Watch Monitor showed that there were already 70 places of worship destroyed. The casualties included an orphanage that housed 40 children.

In a press conference on Monday, national police spokesman Adily Toro said that there were 128 injured people in Niamey.

Churches and other French interests became targets of the attacks. The protesters also robbed and demolished 30 Christian homes, leaving families with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Right now, 300 of the 700 Christians in Niger have taken shelter in the army barracks. Hotels and bars were not exempt to the horrific actions of the protesters.

The violent attacks have urged the government to call for three days of mourning.

According to Agence France Presse, Muslim elder Yaou Sonna called to the people and pleaded to stop the attacks on Christians. "Don't forget that Islam is against violence," he reminded.

In a press statement issued on January 20, the U.S. government expressed its condemnation to the violence and its "deepest condolences" to the loved ones of those who perished in the African region.

Copyright © 2015 Ecumenical News