At least four Christmas Day bombings have been reported in Nigeria, including one that killed at least 30 people during Mass at a Catholic church near the capital, Abuja.
The radical Muslim sect Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the apparently coordinated attacks in Africa’s most populous country.
The deadliest bombing took place near Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a suburb of Abuja. After the attack, angry youths set up burning barricades, prompting police to fire shots into the air to disperse the crowd.
Another bomb exploded near an evangelical Christian church in the central city of Jos, where clashes between Muslims and Christians are relatively common. Local officials say a police officer guarding the area was fatally shot around the time of the explosion.
In the northeastern state of Yobe, residents in Gadaka say a bomb exploded near a church during Christmas services. There were no immediate reports of deaths.
A fourth attack took place in the capital of Yobe state on Sunday. Authorities say three people were killed when a car exploded near the secret police headquarters in Damaturu.
World leaders have condemned the violence. A Vatican spokesman on Sunday described the bombings as acts of “blind hatred” aimed at furthering hatred and confusion.
The West African country has struggled with a wave of violence centered in the country’s north, where government security forces are battling with Boko Haram.
The group has said it wants to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and does not recognize the government or the country’s constitution.
The country of 150 million is about evenly divided between Muslims, who mostly live in the north, and Christians who dominate in the south.
Authorities say violence in and around the cities of Maiduguri and Damaturu has killed at least 68 people over the past few days.
Hundreds of others have died this year in bombings and shootings blamed on Boko Haram.
In Jos, thousands of people have died in recurring bouts of Muslim-Christian violence over the past decade. The city sits in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where the mostly Muslim north meets the mainly Christian south.