Police Station Raid Marks Latest Nigerian Violence

A raid on a police station in Kano, Nigeria on Tuesday night marked the latest violence from radical Islamic group Boko Haram, who are responsible for attacks last Friday that killed at least 185 people.

According to reports, gunmen surrounded the police station and pelted it with homemade grenades and rifle fire. The day afterwards, the station had been overrun by a group of cheering youths.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sinful," has been apparently targeting Christians in their violent campaigns, although the majority of those killed last Friday were Muslim.

With alleged ties to al Qaida, the group has claimed responsibility for nearly 1,000 deaths since its founding in 2009.

The attacks on Friday received widespread condemnation from the U.S. State Department, Human Rights Watch, the Niger government, and others. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been under pressure to quell the violence, although his plan to treat Boko Haram as a terrorist group has been questioned.

"It could acquire a jihadist character, and the way it could is if the United States is seen as supportive of Nigerian security approaches to Boko Haram," John Campbell, a Nigerian expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told IPS News.

Meanwhile, Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria are building a united front to condemn acts of violence.

"Those who want to pitch Christians against Muslims and are trying to foment war between the two groups are causing great harm to the nation. We should resist all attempts to turn us into enemies of one another," said Catholic Archbishop John Onaiyekan in a recent sermon. "On the contrary, this is the time to promote and maintain good relations with our Muslim friends, neighbours and fellow citizens."

Dr. William F. Vendley, general secretary for interfaith group Religions For Peace commended Onaiyekan recently saying, "This is the kind of courageous leadership we all need. Religions For Peace is proud of our Nigeria Muslim and Christian colleagues who are working together against the tide of terrorism to advance peace."

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