Den islamistiske gruppen Boko Haram har forkynt et ultimatum til de kristne i nord: de må forlate området innen tre dager.
Eksperter tror trusselen er alvorlig ment.
Nigeria kan bli styrtet ut i borgerkrigslignende tilstander.
Kristne ledere er ikke imponert over myndighetenes respons. De føler seg ikke beskyttet.
The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has issued an ultimatum giving Christians living in northern Nigeria three days to leave the area amid a rising tide of violence there.
A Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa, also said late Sunday that Boko Haram fighters are ready to confront soldiers sent to the area under a state of emergency declared in parts of four states by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday.
«We will confront them squarely to protect our brothers,» Abul Qaqa said during a telephone call with local media. He also called on Muslims living in southern Nigeria to «come back to the north because we have evidence they will be attacked.»
Recent weeks have seen an escalation in clashes between Boko Haram and security forces in the north-eastern states of Borno and Yobe, as well as attacks on churches and assassinations. Nearly 30 people were killed on Christmas Day at a Catholic church near the federal capital, Abuja — a sign that Boko Haram is prepared to strike beyond its heartland.
Human rights activist Shehu Sani told CNN that the latest Boko Haram threat is credible, but many Christians born and raised in the north have nowhere else to go.
Christian leaders have demanded a stronger response to the attacks from the government and the Muslim community. Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, complained last week that the response of Islamic leaders had been «unacceptable and an abdication of their responsibilities.»
«The Christian community is fast losing confidence in government’s ability to protect our rights,» Oritsejafor said.
David Cook of Rice University, who has studied the rise of Boko Haram, said that «if radical Muslim violence on a systematic level were to take hold in Nigeria … it could eventually drive the country into a civil war.»
Boko Haram er ekstremt voldelig. Gruppen har også drept avhoppere som har ønsket å forhandle.
Beyond the security forces and Christian targets, it has assassinated Muslim clerics who oppose the group, and even killed a prominent Boko Haram member who had attended talks to explore a truce. Boko Haram’s presence in the city of Maiduguri has made it almost ungovernable, according to analysts.
Its ability to inflict mass casualties has grown fast. In August, a suicide bomber struck the U.N. building in Abuja, killing 23 people. In November, some 150 people were killed in a series of bombings and shootings in Damaturu, capital of Yobe state.
Norske Ingrid Midtgaard (30) ble drept i angrepet på FN-bygningen i Abuja.