Nigeria’s dreaded Islamist militant group Boko Haram on Monday claimed responsibility for three deadly attacks on churches that left at least 52 people dead and 131 others wounded.
Boko Haram, which wants to impose Islamic sharia law in Nigeria, said Sunday’s attacks in the cities of Zaria and Kaduna were retaliation on Christians for destroying mosques and, according to the group, turning others into “beer parlour and prostitution joints”.
“Let them know that now it’s the time for revenge God willing,” said the group in a statement. “From now on, they either follow the right religion or there will be no peace for them.”
Government and Red Cross figures on the death toll in Sunday’s attacks differed. The Red Cross said the at least 52 people were killed and 131 others wounded in the attacks.
Analysts say Boko Haram is trying to trigger clashes between Christians and Muslims in the country which is equally divided between the two faiths.
The series of attacks began when a suicide bomber drove at high speed through a barricade at the EWCA Goodnews Wusasa Zaria church early morning.
Within minutes, another explosion occurred at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Zaria, according to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency.