News / Africa

Christmas Eve Attacks in Nigeria Kill at Least 38

A series of Christmas Eve explosions and attacks in Nigeria, several of them at churches, have killed at least 38 people.

The worst attacks, possibly with dynamite, occurred in the central city of Jos. Police on Saturday said at least 32 people were killed and 74 wounded. There were seven explosions in two separate areas. Many of the victims were Christmas shoppers.

Jos is located in Nigeria's Middle Belt, a region in Africa's most populous nation where the mostly Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south. Religious and ethnic clashes have occurred frequently in the region.

In the northern city of Maiduguri, authorities say suspected members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram threw gasoline bombs at three churches, killing six people and leaving one of the churches burned to the ground. Among the dead was a Baptist pastor, whose house also was destroyed.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attacks. He said those responsible would be arrested to stand trial.

Members of the Boko Haram sect have been blamed for a series of attacks in recent months on police and community leaders.

The governor of Borno state, Ali Sheriff, described the assaults as a "worrisome situation" and said officials must ensure adequate safety for worshippers.

Nigeria's 140 million people are divided roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

The tensions in the Middle Belt have been stoked by ethnic divisions as different groups vie for control of fertile farmlands and political power. Local rights groups say about 1,500 people have been killed in the region this year.

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