KANO - Ravaged by their country's worst attacks in decades, Muslim and Christian leaders came together in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Monday, January 23, to pray for peace and stability of their nation.
"I will pray to God that we should never re-live the catastrophe that resulted in the deaths and maiming in our city," Kano State governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Nearly 200 Muslim and Christian leaders gathered at a mosque in the palace of Kano's emir to pray for peace and stability of the country following last week's attacks by the radical group Boko Haram.
"I enjoin you to continue praying for peace and stability in our city, Emir Ado Bayero told the scholars.
I call upon you to use any religious fora to pray for peace in our land.
"Without peace life would not be worth living and religion itself can't be practiced, he said.
More than 160 people were killed Friday in a series of coordinated attacks by Boko Haram group in Kano.
The radical group said that the attacks were in response to government's refusal to release its jailed members.
Nigerian Muslims have strongly condemned the assaults as running counter to the Islamic teachings.
Nigeria's supreme Muslim leader, the Sultan of Sokoto Sa'ad Abubakar, said in a statement that the Kano "incident is perhaps the worst in terms of the loss of lives and property."
"It is evidently clear that Nigeria is passing through a trying moment of general insecurity of overwhelming magnitude," said the Sultan.
Embattled President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to hunt down the radical group following the attacks.
"We will strengthen the security in Kano and other parts of the country," Jonathan said following his visit to Kano on Sunday, Reuters reported.
Nigerian police said on Monday they shot dead four members of the Boko Haram in the northeast city of Maiduguri and recovered explosive materials stored in a car.
"Those who are encouraging them, those who are sponsoring them, shall be brought to book," Jonathan said.
Boko Haram, which was formed in Maiduguri in 2002, has killed hundreds of people in the last year, mostly in and around its home state of Borno, though its attacks have been spreading across the north of Africa's most populous nation.
The Nigerian president has been severely criticized for not getting a grip on Boko Haram, a group he says have infiltrated the police, military and all areas of government.
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning "Western education is sinful", is loosely modeled on Afghanistan's Taliban.
The group originally said it wanted Shari`ah to be applied more widely across Nigeria but its aims appear to have changed.
The sect focuses its attacks mostly on the police, military and government, but has attacked Christians more recently.
It says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.