Five dead in Charlie Hebdo riots in Niger –

By Saturday evening calm had returned to Niamey, where police were stationed
outside the city’s cathedral and other religious buildings, the AFP
correspondent said.

“In Niamey, the tally is five dead, all civilians,” Niger’s
President Mahamadou Issoufou said in a speech broadcast on state television,
appealing for calm.

He added that the death toll in Zinder had climbed from four to five after a
body was found “burned inside a church”.

“Those who loot these places of worship, who desecrate them and kill
their Christian compatriots … have understood nothing of Islam,” he

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, whose country has defended the Charlie
Hebdo cover as freedom of expression, also condemned “the use of
violence, today in Niamey and yesterday in Zinder”.

Around 255 Christians were placed under military protection in Zinder on
Saturday, sheltered in barracks, a Western security source said. Another 70
had sought refuge in an evangelical church protected by police, two of the
Christians there told AFP.

Muslim elder Yaou Sonna, speaking on behalf of around 20 of his peers, called
for restraint, saying on state television: “Don’t forget that Islam is
against violence. I urge men and women, boys and girls to calm down.”

Earlier in the day around 100 helmeted riot police stood in front of the
Niamey cathedral to protect it from a crowd of stone-throwing youths.

Police used tear gas to disperse another crowd of about 1,000 young people
massed in front of Niamey’s grand mosque who were armed with iron bars and

“They burned everything after smashing anything that was glass on the
road,” said Kiema Soumaila, manager of the Toulousain, a well-known bar
in Niamey.

France’s embassy in its poverty-stricken former colony warned French citizens
to stay indoors after rioters ransacked several French-linked businesses,
including telephone kiosks run by Orange.

The satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has repeatedly published cartoons of
Mohammed over the years and its latest issue, released on Wednesday,
features a cartoon of Mohammed on its cover holding a “Je Suis Charlie”
(I Am Charlie) sign under the headline “All Is Forgiven”.

It was published a week after attacks by three Islamists on the weekly’s
offices, a kosher supermarket and a policewoman left 17 people dead in and
around Paris over three days, deeply shocking the country and sparking an
outpouring of international support.

Many Muslims see any depiction of Islam’s prophet as offensive, while many
Western governments have defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to freedom of


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