International

Nigeria Faces Double-Edged Crisis In Protests, Militant Group

Protesters gather to protest against the end of gasoline subsidies in Lagos. Wednesday marked the third day of mass strikes by labor and civil society. i i

hide captionProtesters gather to protest against the end of gasoline subsidies in Lagos. Wednesday marked the third day of mass strikes by labor and civil society.

Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters gather to protest against the end of gasoline subsidies in Lagos. Wednesday marked the third day of mass strikes by labor and civil society.

Protesters gather to protest against the end of gasoline subsidies in Lagos. Wednesday marked the third day of mass strikes by labor and civil society.

Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Parts of Nigeria are under a 24-hour curfew, after demonstrations against a government policy to end fuel subsidies turned into a fiery rampage in the city of Minna. The BBC reports that "hundreds of rioters set fire to government and political party offices and also targeted the homes of local politicians."

The AP lays out the basics of how we got here:

"President Goodluck Jonathan removed subsidies on Jan. 1 that had kept gasoline prices low for more than two decades. Overnight, prices at the pump more than doubled, from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter). The costs of food and transportation also doubled."

Those changes sparked widespread strikes and protests in Nigeria, which imports most of its gasoline. And as Eyder wrote in a post Monday, there has been debate over why the subsidies were ceased.

Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria is also the continent's largest oil exporter. But key unions representing workers in the petroleum industry are now saying they might halt oil and natural gas production to support the broader protests.

And Nigeria's leaders also face a serious problem in the form of the Boko Haram Islamist movement — whose name translates to "non-Islamic education is sacrilege," according to UK's The Guardian.

On Wednesday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a YouTube video in which he said his group was "at war with Christians."

Gunmen from the group are suspected in two attacks in a rural town in the country's northern region. An attack Tuesday killed eight people in a bar — half of them police officers — and on Wednesday, four people were killed at a gas station, according to Reuters.

The news agency adds that officials in Yobe, the state where the attacks occurred, have "banned the use of motorbikes, which have often been used in Boko Haram attacks, in volatile areas of the state."

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