ABUJA: The Nigerian government deployed troops in the northeastern parts of the country on Sunday as the death toll from the previous day’s riots over the controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoons rose to 45.
Police reports said 42 people have been arrested in Maiduguri, capital city of Borneo state and the scene of Saturday's riots. Soldiers have been deployed amid fears that rioters could regroup or strike in another city in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north.
Mufutau Ogunyemi, an undergraduate student at the University of Maiduguri, said that there was calm in the city as foot soldiers and armoured vehicles patrolled the streets. “Figures of arrests have been contradictory. While some said 30 were arrested, others put the figure at close to 100. A Christian policeman and a pastor are hiding in our house now,” he said.
“We are lucky that our landlord, an indigenous ethnic Kanuri, is a liberal Muslim and chose to still accommodate us,” he added. Most of the victims of Saturday's violence were Christians or other non-Muslims.
Rioters razed 18 churches during the protests and at least 17 houses were set alight. Thousands of demonstrators took part in Saturday's rally to protest the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, published last year by a Danish newspaper.
Protesters rallying against burning of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, ransacked a church before setting it on fire in Pakistan on Sunday. About 400 people attacked the church in Sukkur, a city in southern Sindh province, after accusations that a local Christian man had burned pages from the Quran.