Islamic sect claims Nigeria attacks, toll at 86

BAUCHI, Nigeria, (Reuters) – A radical Islamist sect  said yesterday it was behind bombings in central Nigeria and  attacks on churches in the northeast of the country that led to  the deaths of at least 86 people.

The police said yesterday that 80 people were killed in  Christmas Eve bomb attacks and clashes two days later between  Muslim and Christian youths in central Nigeria, while more than  100 are wounded in hospitals.

“We have recovered 80 dead bodies so far in Jos,” Daniel  Gambo, an official at the Nigerian emergency management agency  said late on Monday.

In a separate incident, six people were killed when petrol  bombs were thrown late on Friday at churches in the northeastern  city of Maiduguri, in Borno state.

“O Nations of the World, be assured that the attacks in  Suldaniyya (Jos) and Borno on the eve of Christmas were carried  out by us Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awatu Wal Jihad, under the  leadership of Abu Muhammad, Abubakar bin Muhammad Shekau,” a  statement said on the group’s website.

The radical Islamic group Boko Haram has previously used the  name Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awatu Wal Jihad.

President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to hunt down those  responsible for the bombings but the government has not said who  it believes was behind the attacks.

A government spokesman was not immediately available to  comment on the claim.
Boko Haram, which wants Islamic sharia law more widely  applied across Africa’s most populous nation, staged an uprising  in Maiduguri last year which led to clashes with security forces  in which as many as 800 people were killed.

The chief of defence staff said two suspects had been  arrested on Monday in Jos, the capital of Plateau state, in  possession of dynamite and dangerous weapons.

Armed police patrolled the streets in Jos and surrounding  areas on Tuesday to deter further unrest.
Religious violence flares up sporadically in the central  “Middle Belt” of Africa’s most populous nation, where the  largely Muslim north meets the mostly Christian south.

But co-ordinated bomb attacks have not usually featured in  previous violence and the governor of Plateau state has said the  attacks were politically motivated.

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