[JURIST] Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville [Washington Times profile] on Friday expressed [press briefing] his concern over the continued attacks on churches in Nigeria which have killed more than 100 people, citing possible crimes against humanity. The Islamic militant group known as Boko Haram [BBC backgrounder] was responsible for the attacks on multiple churches in Kaduna on June 17. It was reported that some were killed during the initial attacks while the remaining were killed during the armed conflict between the security forces and Muslims protesting the deadly retaliatory acts by the Christians as well as between the security forces and insurgents in Damaturu. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] condemned the prevalent violence in the country and called on national and local authorities to support the victims of the armed conflicts. It also condemned the group for causing violence between the two communities that have managed to live together in peace for a period of time. Finally, Colville noted that "[d]eliberate acts leading to population 'cleansing' on grounds of religion or ethnicity would also amount to a crime against humanity."
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] had previously urged [JURIST report] the country's authorities, especially the country's religious leaders, to make a concerted effort to stop the violence caused by the militant group. Boko Haram is a Muslim group that has been trying to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state. Its violence is directed at Christians including church bombings [AP report] on Christmas day killing 40 people. The violence was criticized by the international community such as the White House and the Vatican [AP reports] condemning it as senseless violence.