Arsonists burn Christians’ shops in Yobe •Residents flee Damaturu, Potiskum •Security beefed up in Abuja

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IN Potiskum, Yobe State, residents fled after arsonists burnt 30 Christian-owned shops as well as the home of a Christian leader on Sunday night in what appeared to be the

continuation of religious violence that peaked with the bombing of churches on Christmas Day in Niger State.

“I can’t stay here any longer,” a man waiting at a bus stop in Potiskum told Reuters. “It’s peaceful today, but it’s no guarantee that in the next hours it will remain the same,” the 31-year-old said. “People have been killed and it could be me next.”

Also, hundreds of residents in two restive northern Nigerian cities have fled their homes, fearing more violence after a series of bombs swept the country, killing 40 people.

Damaturu, which was struck by two blasts on Sunday, killing three, has been at the centre of clashes between Islamists and authorities in recent days, with people seen at bus and taxi stations planning to leave the town.

Police in Madala, Jos and Damaturu – the three cities targeted in Sunday’s bombings – ramped up their investigations on Monday.

Marilyn Ogar, a spokesperson for the State Security Service (SSS) would not confirm the number of arrests made in connection with the incidents, citing the sensitivity of the ongoing investigations. But she said that police were “arresting as many people as possible” for questioning.

Asked about the status of the police investigation into the Madala bombing, the most severe of the attacks where at least 35 people were killed, police spokesman Richard Oguche, said police had not made any arrests but added that the investigation confirmed that a car bomb caused the explosion in front of St. Theresa’s church.

Following a security meeting in Abuja on the Sunday bombings in parts of the country, security has been beefed up in all the state capitals while the police have been placed on red alert.

The security meeting which wa held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja was attended by top security chiefs and the meeting reviewed the Christmas Day bombings with a view to tackling the problem.

Also, the headquarters of the SSS was also condoned off alongside other strategic buildings like the Federal Secretariat and the National Assembly.

With the new security arrangement in the city, vehicular movement was affected due to various checkpoints introduced by combined security operatives, as vehicles were used to block the road and only personnel of the service were allowed to drive through some restricted areas.

Investigations also revealed that checkpoints have become very tough and those manning them are said to have been directed to shoot any vehicle which attempted to force its way through the checkpoints.

Heavy security presence was also noticed at various relaxation areas within the city, including the famous Abuja Millennium Park, which has continued to record massive turnout of fun seekers.

At the last count, six police patrol vehicles loaded with mobile policemen were seen surrounding the Millennium Park.

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