YOLA, Nigeria, June 11 (Reuters) - Soldiers in a Nigerian state at the heart of an Islamist revolt have shut down all venues preparing to screen live World Cup matches, hoping to stave off the kind of attacks that have killed more than 20 people in the past two weeks.
Nigeria has seen an increasingly bold series of attacks over the past five years by the Islamist militants called Boko Haram, including the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in April .
Since then, militants have set off a car bomb that killed 18 people watching a game on television at a centre in the Adamawa settlement of Gavan, on June 1. A week before, a suicide bomber set out for an open-air screening of a match in Nigeria's central city of Jos. His car blew up on the way, killing three people.
Such assaults on often-ramshackle television viewing centres across Africa have raised fears militant groups will target supporters gathering to cheer on the global soccer contest.
"Our action is not to stop Nigerians ... watching the World Cup. It is to protect their lives," Brigadier-General Nicholas Rogers said on Wednesday in Yola, the capital of northeastern Adamawa state, which has been hit regularly by Boko Haram raids. (Reporting by Emmanuel Ande; Writing by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Larry King)