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Mob riots in north Nigeria over blasphemy claim

KANO (AFP) – An enraged mob went on a rampage in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi over alleged blasphemy by a resident, the third such incident in days in that part of the country, police said on Saturday.

Blasphemy is highly sensitive in Africa’s most populous country where intercommunal tensions often flare up.

Late on Friday, a mob set homes and shops on fire in the town of Warji, 100 kilometres from the state capital, Bauchi, following “a blasphemous message posted on social media by one Rhoda Jatau”, said Bauchi State police spokesman Ahmed Mohammed Wakili in a statement.

“Some irate youths set six houses and seven shops ablaze, while some score of persons were injured,” said Wakili.

The deployment of policemen from Bauchi brought the situation under control and a police investigation into the incident is ongoing, Wakili said.

“The area is calm for now.”

According to Warji residents, the mob became enraged when they could not get Jatau, a female medical worker, who was whisked away to safety by people in her neighbourhood.

Religious tensions have been highlighted this month after Deborah Samuel was stoned to death and her body burnt by a mob of students of the college after she made a post on social media they said insulted a religious figure.

Four days later, hundreds demonstrated in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, lighting bonfires on the streets, calling for the death of a woman for an allegedly blasphemous online post.

The crowd was dispersed by the police and some protesters were arrested.