(Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)
At least six people were killed and dozens injured after a suicide bomber allegedly from Islamist terror group Boko Haram detonated explosives outside a church, and gunmen from the same outfit opened fire at worshippers in another church on Sunday.
Boko Haram men targeted churches in the central city of Jos and the northeastern city of Biu.
In the first attack, a suicide car bomber drove toward the compound of the Christ Chosen Church of God in Jos and detonated his bomb nearby, police spokesman Abu Emmanuel said, according to The Associated Press.
The shock wave from the blast brought down a portion of the building, causing injuries inside, Emmanuel added. Five people, including the bomber, were killed and over 40 were injured in the attack.
In the second attack the same day, gunmen opened fire at worshippers inside the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria in Biu, Borno state. An usher and another worshipper were killed and a few others were wounded.
In Jos, which is situated between Nigeria's largely Muslim north and Christian south, angry youths surrounded the area that was attacked and sought to strike back against Muslims.
It is believed that Boko Haram is attacking Christians in the north to incite sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians which would help the outfit press for the separation of the Muslim-majority north from the Christian-majority south.
The terror group also targets police stations and government buildings.
After the attacks on Sunday, a Boko Haram spokesman claimed responsibility for both attacks while speaking to journalists on a conference call.
Boko Haram, which translates as "Western education is sin," has been blamed for killing more than 560 people this year alone, according to an AP count.
The actual name of the group is Jama'atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda'wati wal jihad, which translates as "people for the propagation of the prophet's teachings and jihad." Mohammad Yusuf, the Islamist cleric who formed the group about a decade ago in Maiduguri city, was against Western education. Yusuf was from the Salafi movement, which has fueled jihadist terrorism in several parts of the world as a legitimate expression of Islam.
It is believed that Boko Haram has gained technical sophistication and weaponry with help from groups like al-Shabaab in southern Somalia and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The terror group, which also targets police and Muslim civilians, has warned that all Christians living in the north should move to the south unless they want to be killed.
Boko Haram's attacks escalated and Christians became one of the primary targets after the victory of President Jonathan, a Christian from the south and a leader of the People's Democratic Party, in the April 2011 election.