World Bulletin/News Desk
Nigerian police have banned any more protests in the capital Abuja concerning a group of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, saying they could be hijacked by "dangerous elements", the police said on Monday.
Nigeria has seen near-daily protests over the abduction and continued detention of more than 200 school girls by the Boko Haram, but much of the anger has been focused on the government for failing to protect them.
They were snatched from the remote northeastern village of Chibok, near the Cameroon border, on April 14.
Officials close to President Goodluck Jonathan say the protests are unfairly directed at the government and security forces when they should be protesting against the rebels.
"As the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness," police commissioner Joseph Mbu was quoted by the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as saying.
"Information reaching us is that too soon, dangerous elements will join groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosives aimed at embarrassing the government."
Mbu added that the venue for the Abuja protest, the 'Fountain of Unity' had become a place for "cooking and selling" by hawkers to the protesters, which he said was a "nuisance".
The government has been repeatedly criticised for failing to protect civilians in the northeast. At least 530 civilians have been killed since the day of the girls' abduction, according to a Reuters count.
But authorities say any attempt to rescue the girls would be fraught with danger, as they are most likely separated into groups. Freeing one group, even if they came out alive, would endanger the others.
A member of the congregation said people jumped through windows to try to escape Sunday's attack in Attangara in the Gwoza hills.
"As we were holding the service, we started hearing gunshots and everybody fled," Matha Yohana told Reuters.
"More than 10 of them (the gunmen) were riding motorcycles and one car," she said, adding some local people had pursued the attackers, killing four of them and capturing three. A police source said nine people were killed in the assault on the church.
The assault on the church came the same day as a blast the army said was caused by a car bomb killed 18 people watching football on television in Kabang town in northeastern Adamawa state.
The military said on Monday they had arrested a man seen getting out of the vehicle that was carrying the explosive.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Monday released a statement branding the militants "outlaws".
"What they are doing is a criminal act, it has absolutely nothing to do with Islam," OIC secretary general Eyad Ameen Madani said when meeting President Jonathan in Abuja.