Niger's president said Saturday that at least 10 people had been killed in two days of violent protests over the cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

President Mahamadou Issoufou said five people were killed Saturday in church fires and violent clashes in the capital, Niamey. At least five others were killed a day earlier in the southern town of Zinder. The protests there included attacks on a French cultural center, several churches and Christian shops.

The violence erupted despite a government decision to ban the distribution of Charlie Hebdo in the Muslim-dominated West African country.

Sani Iro, communications director for PNDS-Tarayya, the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, said the distribution ban was aimed at ensuring peace in Niger. Critics said the decision infringed on freedom of speech guaranteed in the constitution.

The latest cover of Charlie Hebdo depicts a weeping Prophet Muhammad, holding a sign reading "Je Suis Charlie" ("I Am Charlie"), under the headline "All is Forgiven."

This was the first edition of the French magazine to be issued since gunmen attacked the publication's offices in Paris recently. Twelve people were killed in the assault. The killings were said to be retaliation for Charlie Hebdo's previous depictions of Muhammad.

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday defended free speech, saying that anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters in other countries do not understand France's attachment to freedom of speech.

More here: Anti-'Charlie Hebdo' Violence Spreads; Death Toll at 10 in Niger