45 die as Nigeria protests against cartoons

Lagos - As the death toll from Saturday's riots in Nigeria about the Prophet Mohammed cartoons rose to 45, the Danish newspaper in which they first appeared has placed full-page apologies in Saudi Arabian newspapers.

Local police reports say that 42 people have been arrested in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, capital city of Borneo state and the scene of Saturday's riots.

Soldiers have been deployed amid fears that rioters could regroup or strike in another city in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north.

Mufutau Ogunyemi, a student at the University of Maiduguri, said that there was calm in the city as foot soldiers and armoured vehicles patrolled the streets.

"Figures of arrests have been contradictory. While some said 30 were arrested, others put the figure at close to 100. A Christian policeman and a pastor are hiding in our house now," he said.

At least 11 people have died in Libya during violent protests against cartoons published by the Danish paper last September and since republished in several, mainly European, papers.

"It is extremely important to point out that the aim behind these cartoons was not to attack the Prophet at all or devalue him, but as an opening to dialogue on freedom of expression," the Danish paper's apology said.

A leading Muslim cleric in Pakistan has offered a reward to anyone who kills one of the cartoonists responsible for the insult. - Reuters

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