Deadliest cartoon riots kill 16 in Nigeria
Coincident with oil rebels? Sure, and OJ was innocent. EFL
Deadly protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad spread in Africa, killing 16 people in Nigeria on Saturday a day after claiming 11 lives in Libya.

Many of those who died in northern Nigeria were Christians, killed after a Muslim protest over the cartoons turned violent and rioters torched churches, shops and vehicles, police and local officials said.

It was the bloodiest protest so far over satirical cartoons of the Prophet, first published in a Danish newspaper, that Muslims regard as blasphemous.

"They went on the rampage, burning shops and churches of the Christians. The protesters killed the others. Some were even killed in the churches," said Joseph Hayab, north-west secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

The row over the cartoons also forced two ministers out of their jobs in Europe and the Middle East after 11 people died in the Libyan town of Benghazi in clashes on Friday between police and protesters who had tried to storm the Italian consulate.

Italian Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli, who had the cartoons made into a T-shirt which he wore on television, resigned after he was widely blamed for the violence in Libya.

In Tripoli, the General People's Congress fired Interior Minister Nasser al-Mabrouk Abdallah and police chiefs in Benghazi, saying "disproportionate force" had been used.

The Congress hailed the dead as "martyrs" and declared Sunday a day of mourning across Libya.

As thousands of Muslims rallied in central London to keep up the cycle of cartoon protests around the world, there was fresh bloodshed in Pakistan when four people were wounded in gunfire at a demonstration in the central Punjab region.

Protests in Pakistan this week have resulted in at least five deaths, and on Friday it became the latest country where Denmark has decided to temporarily close its embassy. Denmark urged any Danes in Pakistan to leave as soon as possible.

In Nigeria, whose 140 million people are divided about equally between Christians and Muslims, 15 people died in the northeastern state of Borno and one died in the north-central state of Katsina, police spokesman Haz Iwendi said.

He said 11 churches had been torched in Borno and the army had been called in to state capital Maiduguri to impose order.

"The Muslim group came out to protest and the security forces tried to ensure it was peaceful, but there were some hoodlums in the crowd and somehow the security forces shot one or two of them," said Hayab of CAN.

Thousands have been killed in Christian-Muslim clashes over the last five years in Nigeria. Twelve northern states, including Borno, introduced Islamic sharia law in 2000 which has contributed to the animosity between the two religions.

Posted by: Frank G 2006-02-18