Nigerian Authorities Investigate After Mob Burns Police Station to Protest Priest’s Killing

Police in Nigeria’s central Niger state say a mob angry at the killing of a Catholic priest torched a police station, other buildings, and cars, and threw stones at officers Tuesday.  

State police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said authorities are responding to the situation and have deployed reinforcements to the Paikoro district where the incident took place.

He said the protesters, including youths and women, marched from the slain priest’s residence to a divisional police station and set it ablaze.

“We have sent reinforcements there, the security men are on ground and investigations have commenced and further developments will be made known to the public,” Abiodun told VOA via phone. 

It is not clear how many people were injured during Tuesday’s protests, but eyewitnesses told local media that police officers dispersed the demonstrators forcefully.

The protesters blamed police for not responding promptly to distress calls when the armed men attacked the cleric, Father Isaac Achi.

On Sunday, armed men burned Achi inside his home in Paikoro after failing to break in. The attackers also shot at another priest fleeing the scene, but he survived.

The motive behind Achi’s killing remains unknown, but the incident triggered widespread criticism from religious groups including the Christian Association of Nigeria, or CAN.

CAN this week said authorities must decisively put an end to attacks on churches.

In a separate incident on Sunday, gunmen attacked a church in northwest Katsina state and abducted nine people, including two children.

In May, heavily armed men attacked a Catholic church in the southwestern town of Owo and killed 40 worshippers.

Insecurity is a major problem bedeviling Africa’s most populous nation weeks ahead of general elections scheduled for February 25.  

 

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