AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Nigeria tightened security and the United States warned of the risk of attacks Friday ahead of this weekend’s Eid festivities, which mark the end of the Muslim month of fasting.
Nigeria, struggling with a deadly insurgency by Islamist militants Boko Haram, advised residents to be on alert and boosted patrols, while the US embassy in a statement recalled a suicide attack on the UN in Abuja a year ago and warned that “an anniversary security event could occur”. A centuries-old Eid festival in the major northern city of Kano, famed for its elaborate horse pageant, has been cancelled, officially due to the local emir’s health, but residents suspected the worsening violence was to blame.
In the volatile central city of Jos,authorities declared off-limits two main prayer grounds that have been hit by violence in the past over security concerns, but said alternative locations were available. The authorities’ moves were an indication of how badly security has deteriorated in northern and central Nigeria, where Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,400 deaths since 2010.
Nigeria’s national police chief urged the public to share tips with officers, something many people have been reluctant to do out of fear of both Boko Haram and the authorities, who have been accused of abuses. The statement said the force had been directed “to take adequate measures to ensure the provision of water-tight security across the country before,during and after the celebration”.
In a security message, the US embassy evoked the August 26, 2011 suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja which killed at least 25 people and warned of possible fresh attacks.