MOSCOW, January 18 (Sputnik) – At least ten people were killed in two separate instances as protesters across Niger took part in demonstrations against Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly, the Associated Press reports, citing the country's president.
"Those who pillage religious sites and profane them, those who persecute and kill their Christian compatriots or foreigners who live on our soil, have understood nothing of Islam," Niger’s president said in a televised address, as quoted by Reuters. He stated that authorities would investigate the incidents and promised to punish those responsible.
The demonstrations against Charlie Hebdo were sparked after the satirical weekly published more cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad. The magazine placed a cartoon showing the prophet holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign on the cover of its first issue since the January 7 attack, which claimed lives of 12 people.
Police had to use tear gas to disperse protesters in Niamey, where at least eight churches were set ablaze, according to AFP.
"They offended our Prophet Mohammad, that’s what we didn't like," said Amadou Abdoul Ouahab, who took part in the demonstrations, as quoted by Reuters. The population of the West African country is largely Muslim.
Many world leaders condemned both the brutal attack on the office of the satirical weekly, as well as the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani called them a blasphemous and irresponsible act in a statement.
"Freedom of speech should not be used to hurt religious sentiments of any community," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement, as quoted by the Washington Post. "Publication of provocative material should be discouraged by the international community," he stressed.
Rallies protesting against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were also held in the former French colonies of Mali, Senegal and Mauritania, as well as in Pakistan and Algeria.