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Nigeria Arrests Two In Deadly Christmas Day Bombings

Onlookers gather around a destroyed car at a Catholic church bombed on Christmas Day. A violent Islamist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. i i

Onlookers gather around a destroyed car at a Catholic church bombed on Christmas Day. A violent Islamist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. Sunday Aghaeze/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

itoggle caption Sunday Aghaeze/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Onlookers gather around a destroyed car at a Catholic church bombed on Christmas Day. A violent Islamist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

Onlookers gather around a destroyed car at a Catholic church bombed on Christmas Day. A violent Islamist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

Sunday Aghaeze/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Nigerian authorities say they've detained two men they think may be involved in one of several bombings on Christmas Day. At least 35 people died as they were completing mass at St. Theresa Catholic Church, in a suburb of Nigeria's capital, Abuja. There were more deadly bombings at churches in northern Nigeria and police officers who responded were attacked.

The Daily Trust of Abuja reports Boku Haram, a Nigerian Islamist militant group, claimed responsibility in retaliation for attacks on Muslims; their other demands include a suspension of democracy and the country's constitution.

The Telegraph says the group is nicknamed the Nigerian Taliban, and is thought to be behind the deaths of at least 500 people this year. That includes a suicide attack last August on a United Nations building in Abuja that killed 23 people and wounded 76. In the days before Christmas, the report says Boko Haram militants are accused of killing more than 60 people.

Last year, Boko Haram claimed it carried out five church bombings on Christmas Eve: AP says 32 people died.

There isn't much information about the two suspects. Nigerian authorities told Bloomberg only the pair were "caught in action" but didn't explain how.

Muslim leaders in Nigeria are outraged over the violence, and several spoke to the Daily Trust, calling the Boko Haram attacks on churches "dastardly", "reprehensible" and even "satanic". Several Nigerian Muslim groups issued statements calling for the bombers' quick arrest and punishment.

Some Nigerian Christians are worried about a brewing religious war between Muslims, who live mainly in northern Nigeria, and Christians, who live in the south. The northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria says if Boko Haram isn't controlled, Christians will take steps to protect themselves, according to Reuters.

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