In several locations across Nigeria this Christmas, holiday celebrations were anything but quiet. Bombs rang out in two Nigerian cities Sunday, killing an estimated 40 people, disrupting Christmas Day church services and jarring the Nigerian government into changing its course on fighting the group claiming responsibility for the violence: Boko Haram.
"I think strategizing to curb the excesses of this sectarian group is not necessarily an issue of negotiations. What I mean is this government will change tactics to secure the lives of Nigerians," Abba Moro, Nigeria's interior minister, told Al Jazeera.
Following the grisly attacks, world leaders spoke out against the violence, with some pledging both their allegiance and assistance in helping Nigeria to put an end to Boko Haram’s grip on the country.
"We condemn this senseless violence and tragic loss of life on Christmas Day. We offer our sincere condolences to the Nigerian people and especially those who lost family and loved ones,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The U.S. has previously extended its help in training Nigerian forces in counterterrorism.
The Christmas Day attacks occurred across five Nigerian cities, with the majority of the fatalities stemming from a bombing at a Catholic church in the capital city of Abuja that struck during Christmas Mass, killing 35 and wounding more than 50.
Since the group founded in 2002, it has had the Nigerian government consistently on the defense in its attempts to monitor and squelch the group’s growth. The name Boko Haram means “Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language and supports the group’s aim to have Islamic law imposed across Nigeria.
"The violence is increasing both in scale and sophistication," Shehu Sani, a northern-based human rights activist, told AJE. "The attack on churches is [likely] to nationalize the crisis. It will instigate hitherto neutral people into the crisis."
Sani said he now worried about retaliatory violence from Christians. "This is dangerous for the country," he said.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Sunday Aghaeze)