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Nigeria declares state of emergency

ABUJA, Nigeria, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Attacks by the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram prompted Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in parts of the country Saturday.

Jonathan said in a televised address the emergency declaration would be in force in parts of Yobe and Borno states in the northeast, Plateau state in central Nigeria and Niger state in the east, Voice of America reported.

Borders will be temporarily closed in those areas so the country can respond to security challenges as it tries to restore normalcy, Jonathan said.

"All Nigerians will collectively fight this terror," Jonathan said. "We will crush [Boko Haram]. We know what happens in other countries. That is why I always say, 'Yes, there has been a terrorist attack, but there is not a magic wand to wave it off' because we know it has been happening in other countries.

"But collectively, we'll bring it under control and finally crush it. We begin from tonight to take some different measures, different approach to fighting Boko Haram."

The address came after Christmas Day attacks in northeastern Nigeria, including four that killed about 40 people, most of them Christians.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," has claimed responsibility for multiple bombings and shootings in the north and in the capital, Abuja.

The attacks have heightened concerns the militant group is attempting to incite sectarian strife.

The militant group seeks to impose Sharia law throughout Nigeria, Africa's most-populous nation, divided between a largely Muslim north and a mainly Christian and animist south.

The Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella group of churches, said this week Christians would defend themselves if security forces could not protect its members, the BBC reported.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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