A blast followed by a shootout near a
mosque claimed four lives as suspected militants of a radical
group launched an attack in the troubled northern Nigerian
city of Maiduguri.
Tension has been high in the oil-rich African country
since 42 persons were killed on Christmas day in bomb attacks
on churches and other public places in northern Nigeria.
Eyewitnesses said the blast occurred near a mosque after
Friday prayers, but a spokesman for the military ascribed the
incident to armed robbers who wanted to attack a nearby
While several witnesses said four deaths resulted from the
bomb blast, the military said two people were killed when
militants engaged them in a shootout with the intention of
carrying out robbery operations.
The military spokesman Lt Col Hassan Mohammed said it is
holding radical group Boko Haram responsible for the attack as
the group has used robbery as a means of raising money in the
The activities of the group have raised fears of religious
conflict since the Christmas day bombings, with the Christian
Association of Nigeria (CAN) warning of retaliation.
Nigeria`s President Goodluck Jonathan also held a meeting
with his security chiefs in which he told them to take urgent
steps to prevent threats posed by the group.
On Tuesday, a top Islamic leader appealed for calm after a
crucial meeting with the president.
Muhammad Saad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto caliphate met
President Jonathan and said "good people must come together to
defeat the evil ones".
Boko Haram sect has been waging a bloody conflict with an
aim of installing an Islamic government and Sharia rule in the
The highest toll on the Christmas day attack came at St
Theresa`s Catholic Church in Madalla in Niger State where 27
persons died on the spot after a bomb exploded at a car park.
The 150-million pupulation of Nigeria has almost equal
sections of Muslims and Christians. While Muslims are
predominant in the north, Christians are concentrated mostly
in the South.