The death toll from a bomb attack on a church just outside Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Christmas Day has risen to 37, with 57 people wounded, a source at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Friday.
The bombing at St Theresa’s Catholic church in Madalla on Abuja’s outskirts during a packed Christmas mass was the deadliest of a series of Christmas attacks on Nigerian churches and other targets by the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram.
“As of just now, the latest death toll from the bombing of St Theresa’s church is at 37. Wounded, we have 57,” a senior NEMA official said. The initial death toll had been 27.
The official asked not to be identified because the victims were now in the hands of hospitals and morgues.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s office put out a statement late on Friday pledging that “the government will fight Boko Haram, the group of evil-minded people who want to cause anarchy, to the end”.
Mr Jonathan held talks on Friday with Mohame Bazoum, deputy prime minister of Niger. Security officials suspect the countries’ porous common border is a gathering point for militants, and that Boko Haram may have made contact there with Al Qaeda’s north African wing.
“The perpetrators pass through borders at will and we have to ensure that there are no safe havens for them in the sub-region,” Mr Jonathan said.
He had summoned his security chiefs for an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the growing Islamist militant threat and how to deal with it.
National Security Adviser General Owoye Andrew Azazi said that Nigerian security services were considering making contact with moderate members of Boko Haram via “back channels”, even though explicit talks are officially ruled out.