(Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C, with black hat) visits St. Theresa's Catholic church, the scene of a Christmas day bomb attack, just outside the capital Abuja, December 31, 2011. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde )

President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in parts of Nigeria plagued by a violent Islamist insurgency, and ordered shut the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the northeast. Coming nearly a week after radical sect Boko Haram set off a series of bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day, including one at a church that killed at least 37 people and wounded 57, Jonathan told state television the measures would aim to restore security in troubled parts of Nigeria’s north.

“The temporary closure of our borders in the affected areas is only an interim measure designed to address the current security challenges and will be resumed as soon as normalcy is restored,” he said on Saturday. He added that his chief of defence staff had been instructed to take other “appropriate” measures, including setting up a special counter-terrorism force.

The blasts have raised fears that Boko Haram, a movement styled on the Taliban and whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, is trying to ignite sectarian strife in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and top oil producer.

Read the full story by Felix Onuah and Tim Cocks here.

For more on the Boko Haram insurgency, see: Nigeria’s Jonathan vows to “crush terrorists” 31 Dec 2011 Nigerian Christmas bomb death toll rises to 37 30 Dec 2011 Nigeria might talk to Boko Haram via “back channels” 30 Dec 2011 Islamist attacks strain Nigeria’s north-south divide 29 Dec 2011 Seven hurt as bomb hits madrassa in Nigeria 28 Dec 2011

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