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Mobs Kill 15 in Cartoons Rampage

From Associated Press

Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches here Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet linked to the drawings.

Mobs swarmed through the city center with machetes and iron rods. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gas on him and set him ablaze.

Chima Ezeoke, a Christian resident, said protesters attacked and looted shops owned by Christians. Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed.

In Libya, the parliament suspended Interior Minister Nasr Mabrouk after at least 11 people died when his security forces attacked rioters who set fire to the Italian Consulate in Benghazi.

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In Italy, right-wing Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli resigned under pressure, accused of fueling the fury in Benghazi by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with one of the offending cartoons, first published nearly five months ago in a Danish newspaper.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi blamed the riots on “thoughtless action by our minister,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted him as saying.

Calderoli said he wore the shirt to show “solidarity to all those who were hit by the blind violence of religious fanaticism.” He said he didn’t intend “to offend the Muslim religion nor to be the pretext for yesterday’s violence.”

In Britain, Pakistan and Austria, tens of thousands of Muslims protested over the caricatures.

In Islamabad, Pakistani police today raided offices and homes of dozens of radical Islamic leaders in a bid to foil a rally, officials said.

But it was in Nigeria, where mutual suspicions between Christians and Muslims have led to thousands of deaths in recent years, that tensions boiled over into violence.

Thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri before troops and police reinforcements restored order, a police spokesman said. Dozens of people were arrested in the northeastern city.


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