Christmas Day bombings in Nigeria that targeted two churches and a state security building left at least 26 people dead, police and military officials said.
About 20 people were killed in an explosion in the capital, Abuja, as services were being held in St. Theresa’s Church, Yemi Ajayi, a police spokesman, said by phone from the city. Another blast, which was aimed at a church in the central city of Jos, capital of Plateau state, killed a policeman, said Pam Ayuba, a spokesman for the state government.
In the third incident, a suspected suicide-bomber rammed a car into the entrance of the State Security Service building in the northeastern city of Damaturu, killing four people and the bomber, Victor Ebhaleme, a spokesman for the military task force in charge of security in the region, said by phone from Maiduguri.
The Boko Haram, a group that draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, claimed responsibility for the Abuja church attack, the Abuja-based Trust newspaper reported, citing a spokesman for the group, Abu Qaqa. The claim couldn’t be independently verified.
Authorities in Africa’s top oil producer blame the Boko Haram for a surge of violence in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja in which hundreds of people have died this year. At least 72 people have been killed in fighting since Dec. 22 between Nigerian security forces and the militant group in the northeastern city of Damaturu, officials said.
The Obama administration said the bombings “initially appear to be terrorist acts.” In a statement, the White House press secretary said the U.S. has been in contact with Nigerian officials and offered assistance in bringing those responsible to justice.
Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is a sin,” claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack on the United Nations building in the capital on Aug. 26 that killed 24 people. It also claimed several Christmas Eve blasts last year in Jos that left 80 people dead and another blast on New Year’s Eve at an Abuja military barracks that killed at least 12 people.
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