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Italian minister condemns ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Nigeria

By vanguard
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ROME (AFP) – An Italian minister on Sunday condemned “ethnic and religious cleansing” in Nigeria following attacks on churches claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram in which three people were killed and dozens injured.

“Christian blood has again been spilt in Nigeria according to a now clear plan of ethnic and religious cleansing,” said International Cooperation Minister Andrea Riccardi, the founder of a Catholic charity active in Africa.

“The international community can no longer look on at this massacre of innocent people without intervening,” Riccardi said.

Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi also condemned the violence in a statement saying the reports had evoked “great pain and indignation.”

“I reaffirm Italy's maximum engagement in protecting and promoting religious freedom and in confronting the challenge of terrorism,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday a suicide bomber blew his car up outside an evangelical church in the central city of Jos, causing the building to collapse entirely.

In the second attack, gunmen opened fire during a service in the northeastern town of Biu also in an evangelical church.

Boko Haram's insurgency has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009, especially in Nigeria's Muslim-dominated north.