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Terrorism & Security

Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)

The US is pledging to help Nigeria identify those responsible for a series of attacks that left at least 40 people dead on Christmas day.

By Correspondent / December 26, 2011

Christmas bombing: Onlookers gather around a destroyed car at the site of a bomb blast at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria, Christmas day. The explosion ripped through a Catholic church during Christmas Mass killing at least 40 people, officials said.

Sunday Aghaeze/AP

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Nigerian officials and world leaders offered condemnation on Monday for those responsible for a string of Christmas day bombings across Nigeria that killed at least 40 people and injured dozens. The worst attack occurred at a church near the nation’s capital of Abuja.

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The attacks were pinned to Boko Haram, a Nigerian Islamic extremist organization that also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Nigeria during Christmas Eve last year.

Coming just days after 60 people died in a gun battle between the Islamic insurgents and government forces, the Christmas attack has shone harsh light to mounting tensions in Nigeria and raised concerns that more attacks could be soon to come.

“Nigeria must intensify its efforts in the area of security and guarantee freedom of movement and worship,” said the Rev. Isaac Achi, the priest from the bombed church, according to the Los Angeles Times

Including the Christmas bombing, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for attacks that resulted in the death of 504 people in Nigeria this year alone. The group, which has been nicknamed the “Nigerian Taliban,” aims to bring the African nation under Islamic law, reports the Daily Telegraph. Africa’s biggest oil producer and most populous nation, Nigeria’s northern region is predominately Muslim while the southern half of the country is mostly Christian.

Scores killed in months

Though Boko Haram has existed since 2002, Australia’s Sky News reports that violence attributed to the group has risen sharply in recent months. In a series of increasingly complex bombings the group has killed more than 280 people since November. The government has made a number of well-publicized arrests of Boko Haram members and raided some of their bomb making factories, but it appears to have had little impact on the group’s operational capabilities.

Several prominent Nigerians have openly criticized the government following the Christmas attack, saying it lacks the “competent” leadership required to effectively solve the country’s security problems.

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