Nigeria Christmas Violence Death Toll Rises to 80

The death toll for the Christmas Eve bombings in central Nigeria and the Christian-Muslim clash that ensued has risen to at least 80 people, and is expected to continue to increase.

Police initially said 32 people were killed in the coordinated bomb explosions in Jos on Christmas Eve. But late Monday the update for the death toll was at least 80 if counting those killed in the connected conflict between Muslim and Christian youths on Sunday in central Nigeria. Another 100 people were wounded and are in the hospital, causing expectation that the death toll will continue to rise.

On Christmas Eve, two bombs exploded near a busy market where people were Christmas shopping in Jos, the capital of Plateau state. Another blast occurred in a predominantly Christian neighborhood and a fourth bomb exploded near a road leading to the main mosque in Jos.

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Sectarian violence is nothing new to residents of Jos, who earlier this year endured a massacre that left more than 500 people dead. Jos lies in the middle of Nigeria, where the Muslim north meets the mainly Christian south. Although many conflicts in this middle area are described as sectarian, the clashes are usually more so about competition for fertile ground than about religion.

Local police have arrested two suspects in connection to the explosions Monday and are patrolling the city and surrounding area to prevent further conflicts. Previously, bomb attacks have not been used in religious and ethnic violence in the area.

The radical Muslim group Boko Haram, which has a history of violence against Christians, has claimed responsibility for the bombings in Jos and the church attacks in the northern town of Maiduguri. Also on Christmas Eve, armed men attacked two churches killing six people, including a church pastor and two men rehearsing for the carol service.

Authorities have tried to crush Boko Haram, which has also assassinated police and local leaders, by destroying its mosque and arresting its leader. However, after a time of no activity, the group appears to be reviving.

After this past weekend's violence, Boko Haram threatened more attacks on "disbelievers" and "their allies," according to The Associated Press.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south, vows that the government will "go to the root" of the recent Christmas Eve attacks.

"We must unearth what caused it and those behind it must be brought to book," said Jonathan.

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