A TERRORIST group linked to al-Qa'ida has set a three-day deadline to Christians in Nigeria to flee before it responds in force to the government's state of emergency.
Boko Haram warned Christians living in the predominantly Muslim north that they had until the end of tomorrow to "move away" before attacks on the community.
Abul Qada, the spokesman who claimed responsibility on behalf of the group for the Christmas Day bombings that killed at least 50, threatened Nigerian soldiers deployed to quell violence in the north.
"Soldiers will only kill innocent Muslims in the local government areas where the state of emergency was declared," he said. "We would confront them squarely to protect our brothers."
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on Saturday in four areas hardest hit by increasing violence.
Under the president's orders, security forces operating in Borno, Plateau, Niger, and Yobe states were given expanded powers to make arrests and conduct searches in an effort to track down the insurgents.
Security forces have arrested "hundreds" of "foot soldiers" in connection with the bombings last weekend, police said last Thursday, but the masterminds of the violence remain at large.
Boko Haram was responsible for at least 500 deaths in Nigeria last year, including scores of soldiers and police, but using civilians as targets has raised concerns about the group's interest in causing religious conflict as well as its links to other al-Qa'ida affiliates.
The Christian Association of Nigeria condemned the government for failing to make a "convincing high profile arrest". (© Daily Telegraph, London)