Suspected Islamist militants kill 44 in Nigeria

JOS, July 6

Suspected Islamist militants killed 44 people in attacks on a restaurant and on a mosque in the central Nigerian city of Jos, emergency service authorities said today. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but last night’s attacks bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram insurgents, fighting since 2009 to carve out a radical Islamic state in the northeast of Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer.

Alhassan Muhammad of the National Emergency Management Agency said 23 people died in a suicide bombing at the Jos restaurant while 21 died in a shooting and grenade attack outside the mosque. He said 47 people had been injured.

Plateau State police spokesman Emmanuel Abuh had earlier confirmed reports of two attacks in Jos, the state capital located on the edge of the core insurgency zone in the northeast and had been hit by major Boko Haram attacks before.

“I saw people running out crying, some with bloodstains,” said resident Bashir Abdullahi, describing the scene after he said a suicide bomber ran into the crowded restaurant. “I believe many lives were lost.”

The second attack targeted a mosque where a well-known cleric was preaching. “We saw two or three vehicles coming from different directions and we started hearing gunshots from all angles and then a very loud bang, like a bomb being thrown into the mosque,” said one of the witnesses Abubakar Shehu.

A suicide bomber killed six people at a church in northeast Nigeria earlier on Sunday after a week in which suspected Boko Haram insurgents killed more than 200 people.