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Nigeria Declares Emergency Rule as Christians Debate Amnesty for Boko Haram Islamists
Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP / Getty

Nigerian Protestants and Catholics are largely divided over a government proposal to grant amnesty to members of Boko Haram, the violent Islamist sect whose attacks and suicide bombings have killed more than 4,000 people and destroyed hundreds of churches in northern Nigeria since 2009.

Labeling recent attacks as a "declaration of war," President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three of Nigeria's northeastern states (full text). More military troops will be sent to Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, believed to be the strongholds of the sect, though the Associated Press notes "a similar effort [previously] failed to stop the bloodshed."

The same day, the Borno state leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pentecostal pastor Faye Pama Musa, was killed by suspected Boko Haram members. (Morning Star News offers more details.)

The declaration was widely applauded by many, with CAN describing it as long overdue. One of Nigeria's top Anglican leaders, Nicholas Okoh, is among those that oppose the emergency powers, urging the government to host a national dialogue instead. "The federal government had tried this emergency rule in other parts of the country but it didn't work," he told Nigerian reporters at a press conference. "There is need for Nigerians to talk about how they want to live together."

Though the West African nation's military continues to engage the insurgents in fierce gun battles, the bombings have remained unabated, forcing northern leaders to demand a political solution to the crisis.

In 2008, Nigeria granted amnesty to militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta who violently protested the environmental degradation and neglect of ...

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