Two bombs blamed on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram exploded at a crowded mosque and a Muslim restaurant in Nigeria’s central city of Jos, killing 44 people, officials said on Monday.
The blasts on Sunday night came hours after a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a crowded evangelical Christian church service in the north-eastern city of Potiskum, killing at least five people.
Also on Sunday, extremists returned to north-eastern villages attacked three days earlier, killing nine villagers and burning down 32 churches and about 300 homes, according to the chairman of a self-defence group in Borno state.
Sunday’s attacks are the latest in a string blamed on Boko Haram that have now killed more than 250 people over a week. They may correspond to an Islamic State order for more mayhem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Boko Haram declared allegiance to Isis earlier this year.
In Jos, at least 44 people died and 67 were wounded. Police said a final toll would be announced after they had finished searching rubble.
Survivors said the explosion at the Yantaya mosque came as a leading cleric from an organisation that preaches religious co-existence was addressing a crowd.
Another bomb exploded at Shagalinku, a restaurant frequented by state governors and other elite politicians seeking specialities from Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, witnesses said.
Sabi’u Bako bought a take-out and then heard a massive blast as he walked away with friends. “The restaurant was destroyed and we saw many people covered in blood,” he said. “We can’t believe that we escaped.”
Jos – located in the centre of the country where Nigeria’s majority Muslim north and mainly Christian south collide – is a hotspot for violent religious confrontations. The city has been targeted in the past by bomb blasts claimed by Boko Haram extremistse.
Boko Haram took over a large swath of north-eastern Nigeria last year and stepped up cross-border raids. A multinational army from Nigeria and its neighbours forced the militants out of towns, but bombings and village attacks have increased in recent weeks.
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