Africa

Nigeria's Boko Haram crisis: Jos blasts kill scores

  • 7 July 2015
  • From the section Africa
People gathering outside the bombed building Image copyright Silverbird TV
Image caption Dozens of people were injured in the Jos bombings

Two bomb attacks on the central Nigerian city of Jos have left at least 44 people dead, the authorities say.

A restaurant and a mosque were targeted on Sunday night.

No group has said it carried out the attack, but militant group Boko Haram has attacked Jos before, even though it is not in north-east Nigeria where the Islamists normally operate.

The blasts are the latest in a series of deadly attacks in recent days which have seen more than 200 people killed.

The attacks came shortly after the Ramadan fast was broken, with both sites full of people.

Of the 44 dead, 23 were killed at the restaurant and 21 at the mosque, Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) says.

Image caption The bomb at the Shagalinku restaurant came as people were breaking the Ramadan fast

There are also 47 people being treated for injuries, but emergency officials are still gathering information, so the figures may rise.

The blast at the restaurant was caused by a bomb that had been planted, whereas the mosque was attacked by a suicide bomber and that explosion was preceded by gunfire, the BBC's Ishaq Khalid reports.

Eyewitness Akaria Ahammed said: "When they started shooting people, people started running helter-skelter for their lives.

"Unfortunately those that stood up were shot."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hospital staff attended to injured people in Jos throughout Monday

Our correspondent says that many believe that the mosque's imam, who was preaching at the time, may have been the target.

Sheikh Muhammad Sani Yahya Jingir, who survived the attack, is known for preaching against Boko Haram and has written a book which criticises the group called Boko Halal (Western education is permitted - Boko Haram means Western education is forbidden).

He has survived a previous assassination attempt at his home and is seen as one of the most influential clerics in Nigeria.

Speaking on Monday, Sheikh Jingir said the bombing was "not an attack on an individual, it is an attack on all of us".

Meanwhile the Nigerian military told the BBC it had freed more than 180 people who had been detained on suspicion of being Boko Haram members.

The former suspects had been freed after being screened by the military to ensure their innocence, officials said.

Correspondents say Nigeria's treatment of Boko Haram suspects has been an extremely contentious issue.

Amnesty International says that thousands have died in detention in the past four years - something the military denies.

However, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to investigate the rights group's claims.

Why the upsurge in attacks? Will Ross, BBC News, Nigeria

It is not unusual for there to be a heightened risk of jihadist attacks during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Boko Haram may be trying to deepen its ties with the jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria who had called for "a month of disasters for the infidels".

Many of the recent attacks have been by suicide bombers - often young women.

Where the bombs are being made and where the bombers are being brainwashed is unclear but the Nigerian intelligence and security services need to do far more to stop the bloodshed.

Once again the range of targets is alarming and on this latest bloody Sunday a church and a mosque were bombed within hours of each other.

Will moving military HQ make a difference?

Why Boko Haram remains a threat

Who are Boko Haram?

Jos has seen several attacks blamed on Boko Haram, including an incident in February when at least 15 died and in December last year when more than 30 people died.

The city has in the past seen clashes between Muslim and Christian communities and some have suggested that Boko Haram is looking to exploit these fault-lines.

In another development on Monday a girl aged about 13 was reported to have been killed when explosives strapped to her body went off near a major mosque in the northern city of Kano.

Police told the AFP news agency that no-one else was killed in the blast apart from the teenager..

A week of attacks in Nigeria:

  • Sunday: Church attacked in Potiskum, in Yobe state, killing at least five
  • Friday: Several suicide bombers kill scores of people in Zabarmari village, north-east Nigeria
  • Thursday: Two female suicide bombers attack another village in Borno state
  • Wednesday: More than 50 gunmen kill 97 people in the village of Kukawa, near Lake Chad
  • Tuesday: 48 men shot dead after prayers in two villages near the town of Monguno, Borno state

On Friday, Mr Buhari described the recent attacks as "inhuman and barbaric".

In power now for just over a month, the president was elected on the pledge to defeat Boko Haram.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Men held on suspicion of being affiliated to Boko Haram line up to be released by the Nigerian military in Maiduguri

He said they were "the last desperate acts of fleeing agents of terrorism".

Boko Haram took control of a large area of north-eastern Nigeria last year and declared a caliphate - a state governed in accordance with Islamic law.

However, Nigeria's military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, has recaptured most of the territory.

President Buhari has called for an expanded regional force to be deployed more rapidly.

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