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Africa

Ten killed in Niger during anti-Charlie protests

media A man branishes a Koran in front of a burning car and a mosque in Niamey, 17 January 2015 REUTERS/Tagaza Djibo

Deadly riots and destruction on Saturday in Niger’s capital; ongoing tensions on display with a police crackdown on an unrelated political march on Sunday.

Two days of violence left five civilians dead in Niamey, and another five in Zinder, the city’s second city.

Rioters also vandalised a dozen churches, with AFP reporting eight Christian houses of worship burning along the river Niger.

Nigerian president Mahmadou Issoufou denounced the destruction, saying "those who loot these places of worship, who desecrate them and kill their Christian compatriots... have understood nothing of Islam".

Numerous bars, hotels, and other non-Muslim-owned places of commerce were also destroyed.

Muslim elder Yaou Sonna called for calm on state television: "Don't forget that Islam is against violence. I urge men and women, boys and girls to calm down."

Over 250 Christians in Zinder were placed under military protection, the French embassy encouraged the some 2,000 French citizens living in Niamey to stay home.

On Sunday, conflict continued as a political opposition party decided to carry out a long-planned, but banned, march on parliament against “bad governance”.

Police fired tear gas on some 300 demonstrators who had gathered in a central square and several protestors, including a former minister, were arrested.

French President Francois Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius have condemned the violence.

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