Boko Haram jihadists are suspected of detonating two bombs in Jos, Nigeria, on Sunday, killing at least 44 and leaving another 67 wounded. One of the bombs exploded in a mosque packed with worshipers, the other in a restaurant frequented by Muslims.
In the Yantaya mosque, witnesses said the bomb exploded while the preacher was calling for peaceful coexistence between religions during the holy month of Ramadan. The bomb, reportedly, was targeting Sani Yahaya Jingir, a Muslim cleric who has renounced Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
According to eyewitnesses, armed militants started shooting sporadically; a loud explosion followed.
“We saw two or three vehicles coming from different directions and we started hearing gunshots from all angles and then a very loud bang, like a bomb being thrown into the mosque,” said witness Abubakar Shehu.
The second bomb exploded at Shagalinku, a restaurant patronized by elite politicians.
“I saw people running out crying, some with bloodstains,” said local resident Bashir Abdullahi, who witnessed a suicide bomber run into the crowded restaurant. “I believe many lives were lost.”
Plateau State police spokesman Emmanuel Abuh confirmed there had been two attacks in Jos but had no further details immediately. Abdussalam Mohammed of the National Emergency Management Agency confirmed that 67 other people were wounded and are being treated in hospitals.
Though no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, the method, target, and location are consistent with past attacks attributed to the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
Jos is located in central Nigeria between the predominantly Christian and animist southern half of the country and northern Nigeria, where the majority of the country’s Muslims reside.
The city of Jos in the past has often been the scene of attacks by Islamic extremists: in May 2014, a truck and a car bomb exploded in two markets in this area, causing over 100 casualties.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.