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In Nigeria, Church Bombing Death Toll Now 30; Gunmen Attack Police Station

It has been a bloody last couple of days in Nigeria: First on Sunday, two car bombs exploded near a church inside a military base. According to the AP, hospital officials said the death toll in that incident has grown to 30.

And today, the AP reports, there is news that gunmen rushed a police station in the nation's capital of Abuja.

The BBC reports that 30 detainees escaped, but police managed to recapture 25 of them. The BBC adds:

"One Abuja resident said he heard gunfire for about half an hour in the early hours of Monday morning.

"The suspects escaped during the confusion of the attack, the police statement said.

"None of those who fled were held on terror-related charges, while two of the attackers were arrested, it said."

The AP reports that Boko Haram is suspected in both attacks, but has not claimed responsibility. The AP explains:

"Boko Haram, whose name means 'Western education is sacrilege' in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north, has demanded the release of all its captive members and has called for strict Shariah law to be implemented across the entire country. The sect has killed both Christians and Muslims in their attacks, as well as soldiers and security forces. ...

"The sect is blamed for killing more than 760 people this year alone, according to an Associated Press count. Western diplomats and military officials say the sect has loose ties to both al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Somalia's al-Shabab, while also offering fighters to join Islamists now controlling northern Mali. That has led to worries the group will grow only more violent as time goes on."

One more thing to note: The police station targeted in today's attack, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) detention center in Abuja, was highlighted by a Nov. 1 report from Amnesty International.

According to the report, which detailed human rights abuses by Nigeria's security forces, the detainees at the SARS center are kept in a warehouse that was previously used as a slaughter house.

"Detainees are given little food or water and are dependent on relatives bringing food or money," the Amnesty report found.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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