|"Men look at the wreckage of a car following a bomb blast at St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a town outside the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sunday." (AFP/Getty Images)|
MSNBC.com, December 25, 2011
"Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a wave of Christmas Day bombings on Sunday, including an attack on a Catholic church that killed at least 35 people. Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa claimed the bombings in a statement to the journalists' association of Maiduguri, capital of the group's heartland. The Christmas Day attacks show the growing national ambition of Boko Haram, which is responsible for at least 491 killings this year alone, according to an Associated Press count. The assaults come a year after a series of Christmas Eve bombings in Jos claimed by the militants left at least 32 dead and 74 wounded. The first explosion on Sunday struck St. Theresa Catholic Church just after 8 a.m. The attack killed 35 people and wounded another 52, said Slaku Luguard, a coordinator with Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency. 'We were in the church with my family when we heard the explosion. I just ran out. Now I don't even know where my children or my wife are,' Timothy Onyekwere told Reuters. 'I don't know how many were killed but there were many dead.' 'I want to know if my wife is dead or alive,' a man yelled as he tried to enter the area holding dead and wounded. Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency already has acknowledged it didn't have enough ambulances immediately on hand to help the wounded. Luguard also said an angry crowd that gathered at the blast site hampered rescue efforts as they refused to allow workers inside. 'We're trying to calm the situation,' Luguard said. 'There are some angry people around trying to cause problems.' President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south who is struggling to contain the threat of Islamist militancy, called the incident 'unfortunate' but said Boko Haram would 'not be (around) for ever. It will end one day.' [...]"