44 killed in bomb blasts at central Nigerian mosque, restaurant


NIGERIA: At least 44 people were killed and 67 other injured after two bombs exploded at a crowded mosque and a Muslim restaurant in Nigeria's central city of Jos, witnesses said.

There was no immediate official word on the Sunday night blasts or any claim of responsibility. But people blamed Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic extremist group that has exploded bombs in the past that killed hundreds in Jos.

The explosion at Yantaya Mosque came as leading cleric Sani Yahaya of the Jama'atu Izalatul Bidia organization, which preaches peaceful co-existence of all religions, was addressing a crowd during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to survivors who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

They said they did not know how many worshippers were killed.

Another bomb exploded at Shagalinku, a restaurant patronized by state governors and other elite politicians seeking specialties from Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.

At least 15 people died there, Mark Lipdo of the Christian-based Stefanos Foundation told The Associated Press.

Sunday's attacks are the latest in a string blamed on Boko Haram that have killed more than 200 people over the past week in the group's northeastern stronghold.

The extremists returned Sunday to northeastern villages attacked three days earlier, killing nine villagers and burning down 32 churches and about 300 homes, said Stephen Apagu, chairman of a vigilante self-defense group in Borno state's Askira-Uba local government area.

He said the vigilantes killed three militants.

Boko Haram took over a large swath of northeastern Nigeria last year and stepped up cross-border raids. A multinational army from Nigeria and its neighbors forced the militants out of towns, but bombings and village attacks increased in recent weeks, apparently in response to an Islamic State group order for more mayhem during Ramadan. Boko Haram became the Islamic State group's West Africa franchise earlier this year.