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Niger declares three days of mourning after deadly cartoon demos

19 January 2015, 19:31

Niamey - Niger declared three days of mourning from Monday after violent protests over a Prophet Mohammed cartoon published by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that left 10 people dead and dozens of churches torched.

Flags will fly at half-mast in memory of those killed during the riots that erupted in the capital Niamey and Zinder at the weekend.

The violence left 10 people dead and 173 injured in both cities and saw at least 45 churches set ablaze in the capital alone, police said.

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A Christian school and orphanage were also set alight and a French flag was burned, national police spokesman Adily Toro told a press conference.

Protests have erupted in several Muslim countries since Charlie Hebdo published Mohammed cartoons in its "survivors' issue" on Wednesday, a week after 12 people were killed in an attack by Islamist gunmen on its Paris offices.

The two masked gunmen said they were avenging previous publications of cartoons depicting the prophet by the irreverent magazine.

Toro said 189 people, including two minors, were arrested in the unrest, which also saw demonstrators pillage and burn numerous sites, including five hotels and 36 bars.

On Sunday, some 300 protesters in Niamey defied a ban on further demonstrations, throwing stones at police who fired back with tear gas.

Muslim elder Yaou Sonna on Saturday urged people to stop attacking Christians in the landlocked west African country.

"Don't forget that Islam is against violence," he said on state television. "I urge men and women, boys and girls to calm down."

Many Muslims, who form an overwhelming majority of Niger's population, see any depiction of Islam's prophet as blasphemous.



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