02:23 - Source: CNN
Nigeria: Hundreds killed in weeks of violence

Story highlights

NEW: The death toll from attacks in the city of Jos rises to 44, authorities say

NEW: A teenage suicide bomber dies after her explosive belt detonates in Kano

A priest is reported to be among five people killed in church attack in northeastern town

Jos, Nigeria CNN —  

A series of blasts, some of them targeting places of worship, has killed scores of people in Nigeria, where the military is battling the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

The heaviest death toll was in Jos, in central Nigeria, where two deadly explosions struck late Sunday not far from each other.

One blast ripped through a restaurant in a shopping complex in an area popular with travelers and where many Muslim families live. The restaurant was full of customers when the explosion went off, witnesses and survivors said.

The other attack took place at a crowded mosque as a sermon for the holy month of Ramadan was being delivered. Unidentified attackers opened fire outside with guns before launching a rocket-propelled grenade at the mosque, witnesses said.

Ado Aliyu, a survivor who was shot in the arm, told CNN that about five gunmen entered the crowd and started shooting, setting off a stampede before the explosion struck.

At least 44 people were killed and 47 others wounded in the shooting and explosions, Mohammed Abdussalam, an official at Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, said Monday.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Boko Haram has been tied to violence in Jos in the past, including an attack on a market in May 2014 that killed more than 100 people.

The city sits between the predominantly Christian and animist southern half of Nigeria and the north, where the majority of the country’s Muslims live.

Church attack kills priest, children

In the northeastern town of Potiskum, meanwhile, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a church on Sunday, killing the priest and four other worshipers, witnesses and police told CNN.

A woman and her two children were among the victims of the attack at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the sources said.

Though no one has claimed responsibility for the church attack, the method, target and location are consistent with past attacks thought to have been perpetrated by Boko Haram.

Potiskum, the commercial hub of Yobe state, has been the site of multiple deadly attacks for which authorities blamed the Islamist group. The militants have carried at least four previous suicide attacks in the town so far this year, resulting in the deaths of more than 20 people.

Boko Haram has been known to target churches in Nigeria before, including spates of attacks on the places of worship in November 2011 and June 2013.

On Monday, a 13-year old female suicide bomber was killed when her belt of explosives detonated near a mosque in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, police said. Nobody else was hurt in the explosion, they said.

More than 150 killed last week

The violence on Sunday and Monday followed a bloody week of Boko Haram attacks on villages in northeastern Nigeria that left well over 150 people dead.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday called the earlier attacks “inhuman and barbaric” and pledged that every last “Boko Haram bandit … would be hunted down without mercy and compromise.”

Elected earlier this year, Buhari vowed to focus on the fight against the terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS. But so far, he has struggled to stop the heavy bloodshed in the northeast.

The United States on Sunday condemned recent attacks by Boko Haram.

“As we have said before, the people of northern Nigeria deserve to live free from violence and from terror,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “The United States continues to provide counterterrorism assistance to help Nigerian authorities develop a comprehensive approach to combat the threat posed by Boko Haram.”

Journalist Hassan John reported from Jos, and journalist Aminu Abubakr reported from Kano, Nigeria. CNN’s Jethro Mullen in Hong Kong wrote this report.