Reuters/Afolabi SotundeBy RFI- A website claiming to belong to an Islamist sect has posted that the group carried out bombings in central Nigeria on Christmas eve, but police doubt the claim.The death toll from the bombings and an attack on churches in the north of the country has risen to 86, according to emergency officials.
“O nations of the world, be informed that verily the attacks in Suldaniyya [Jos] and Borno on the eve of Christmas was carried out by us, Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, under the leadership of Abu Muhammad, Abubakar bin Muhammad Shekau,” said a statement on the site.
The attacks were meant “to start avenging the atrocities committed against Muslims in those areas, and the country in general. Therefore we will continue with our attacks on disbelievers and their allies and all those who help them.”
Suspected Boko Haram members have said in the past that they want to be known as a group that goes by the name Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, which translates roughly to “People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad.”
Shekau, mentioned in the statement, is the suspected leader of the Boko Haram sect, which launched an uprising in Nigeria earlier this year. Video of a man believed to be Shekau, speaking in Hausa, was also posted on the website.
The statement on the site also claimed responsibility for attacks on three churches in Maiduguri, in the north of the country, on the same day that left at least 6 people dead, though investigators have said there is no indication that the two attacks are linked.
Abdulrahman Akano, police commissioner for Plateau state doubts the claims on the website.
“Anybody can post anything on the Internet,” he said, adding that Boko Haram does not usually use bombs.
At least 80 people were killed in the Christmas eve blasts in Jos and in clashes on Sunday, according to Nigeria’s emergency agency.
“We have gone around the five hospitals where casualties from the explosions and the violence that followed in Jos were taken,” said Daniel Balarabe Gambo, deputy director of communications for the National Emergency Management Agency.
“The data we collated at these hospitals shows that a total of 80 people died from the incidents while 189 were injured.”
Police say the toll is much lower, but the emergency agency has insisted it was accurate.