Bomb blasts kill 51 as Boko Haram targets mosque and restaurant
Published 07/07/2015 | 02:30
Two bombs blamed on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram exploded at a crowded mosque and a Muslim restaurant in Nigeria's central city of Jos, killing 51 people, officials said.
The blasts on Sunday night came hours after a woman suicide bomber blew herself up at a crowded evangelical Christian church service in the north-eastern city of Potiskum, killing six people, according to witnesses. Extremists also returned to north-eastern villages attacked three days earlier, killing nine villagers and burning down 32 churches and about 300 homes, said Stephen Apagu, chairman of a self-defence group in Borno state's Askira-Uba local government area. He said the self-defence group killed three militants.
The attacks are the latest in a string blamed on Boko Haram that have now killed about 300 people in the past week.
In Jos, the 51 victims were buried this morning, Muslim community lawyer Ahmed Garba said. Another 67 people are wounded. Police confirmed the explosions but said a final toll must wait as they were still excavating rubble.
The explosion at the Yantaya Mosque came as leading cleric Sani Yahaya, of the Jama'atu Izalatul Bidia organisation, which preaches peaceful co-existence of all religions, was addressing a crowd, according to survivors.
Gunmen opened fire on the mosque from three directions, said Mr Garba.
Survivor Danladi Sani said he saw a man robed in white open fire aimed at Mr Yahaya, and then blow himself up. Mr Yahaya was unharmed, he said.
"He is a great Islamic scholar who has spoken out against Boko Haram, and that is why we believe he was the target," Mr Sani said.
Another bomb exploded at Shagalinku, a restaurant patronised by state governors and other politicians seeking specialties from Nigeria's mainly Muslim north. Witness Sabi'u Bako bought a take-away and then heard a massive blast as he walked away with friends. "The restaurant was destroyed and we saw many people covered in blood," he said. "We can't believe that we escaped."
Nigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attacks on places of worship and said the government would defend Nigerians' right to worship freely.