Nigeria Map
Nigeria MapVoice of America/US Government

Islamist violence has forced NIgerian President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency and order the closure of part of the country's borders.

Jonathan announced the emergency measures Saturday, labeling the Islamist sect Boko Haram a "cancer" that threatened to destroy Africa's most populated body after a deadly week in which scores were killed by the radical Islamist terror group Boko Haram.

Speaking in a broadcast to the nation, the president said, "It has become imperative to take some decisive measures to restore normalcy in the country, especially within the affected communities..." He listed parts of the states of Niger, Yobe, Plateau and Borno -- where Boko Haram has its traditional stronghold. 

Jonathan also ordered the shutdown of land borders between the affected areas to control "cross-border terrorist activities."

Nigeria has been hit by a series of bloody terrorist attacks by the radical Muslim sect.

Although the country, numbering some 160 million people, is comprise primarily of Muslims and Christians, nevertheless, there is a very tiny minority of Jews there as well -- mostly travelers and business people who are there for tourism and industrial purposes. The Jews in Nigeria are safe at present, a source told Arutz Sheva in an email interview, requesting anonymity due to security concerns.

Last week 39 people were slaughtered, most of them dying in a bombing of their house of worship after celebrating Christmass Mass, lying in a pool of blood on the steps of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, near the Nigerian capital.

The December 25 slaughter was a coordinated Al Qaeda-style attack by the Muslim fundamentalist Boko Haram terrorist group, whose spokesman -- using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa -- claimed responsibility for the attacks in an interview with the Nigerian newspaper The Daily Trust.

The group, which rose in 2009, is responsible for at least 504 murders in 2011 according to a count by the Associated Press, and is determined to force the entire multi-ethnic Nigerian population  to submit to Shari'a (Islamic) law.

Israel immediately issued a statement condemning "in the strongest terms the terror attacks that occurred in Nigeria on Christmas Day."

The Netanyahu government promised to provide the Nigerian authorities with medical supplies to treat the wounded.

The White House, meanwhile, responded to the slaughter with a routine condemnation, as did British Foreign Secretary William Hague and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Nigerian and Israeli governments have been on good terms since President Goodluck Jonathan's election. The relationship has not been a one-way street by any means: in September, Nigeria decided to abstain in the U.N. Security Council when the Palestinian Authority attempted to bypass negotiations with Israel and seek its statehood through an application for statehood membership in the international body.