A radical Muslim sect has claimed responsibility for five separate bomb blasts which hit towns across Nigeria on Christmas Day and killed at least 39 people.
The first blast has so far been the deadliest, occurring at a church during Christmas mass. At least 35 bodies have been recovered from the rubble of St Theresa Catholic Church near the capital, Abuja. Over 50 people were injured in the explosion, according to local police reports.
Another bomb went off outside a church in the city of Jos, which is located on the line that divides Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. Shortly afterwards, a gunman opened fire on nearby crowds, killing one policeman. Local law enforcement officers also found and defused another explosive device.
Two explosions have also been reported in the town of Damaturu, with reports so far confirming the deaths of three people. Yet another blast took place in the town of Gadaka, with no casualties reported so far.
Boko Haram, a Nigerian radical Muslim sect, has claimed responsibility for the attacks. They came just a day after violent clashes between rebels and the military left at least 61 people dead.
The group was responsible for a massacre in Jos last Christmas in which at least 34 people died and over 70 were injured. The group also claimed the August 24 suicide car bombing of the UN headquarters in Nigeria's capital that killed 24 people and wounded 116 others.
Author and radio host Stephen Lendman says Nigeria's ongoing violence is largely fueled by both the frustration of the impoverished population in general, and the anger of the country's Muslim north – which has increasingly been excluded from power since the election of Goodluck Jonathan as President in April.
“Last April’s elections were less than free and fair,” Lendman told RT. “Jonathan was elected. He represents the Christian south, and about half of Nigeria is Muslim. They’re in the north, and they were marginalized. Again, they are being totally shut out of the system and Jonathan has close western ties, close Washington ties, close big oil ties and he’s their man. He’s their man to turn the country over to big oil and let them suck the wealth out of it at the expense of the people. That’s the anger that’s driving this violence.”
Professor of African political history Yekutiel Gershoni however believes the true aim of Boko Haram extremist Muslim group is to promote the global influence of Islam and he says they are using terror to gain control over the country.
“Their aim is to bring the whole country under their control. And to do it by terror, by explosion, is actually a ‘cheap’ way because they do not need a big army, they do not need any special units or airplanes – nothing,” he told RT. ”They need four or five people who will be able either to [commit] suicide [attacks] or to plant explosives in crowded centers. So they believe by terror they could bring the country under their control. In addition, that way of behavior keeps them in the news and makes people afraid of them. This extremist group is not doing it for pleasure – they believe in what they are doing. They do believe this is the only way for them to bring Islam to reign in the country, in Africa and in the world. “