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Multiple Blasts Hit Nigeria’s Northeastern City of Damaturu

At least two explosions and sporadic gunshots hit parts of the Sabon Pegi area of the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu, in Yobe state, in renewed attacks carried out by the Boko Haram Islamic sect, amid military spokesman said.

“We are on top of the situation, we have sent reinforcement from Maiduguri, and I can assure you that the situation is under control,” Victor Ebhaleme, field operations officer of a military joint task force in the region said by phone. He didn’t provide information about any casualties, and the police spokesman in Damaturu, Saliyu Adamu, didn’t respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Authorities in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, blame Boko Haram for attacks in the mainly Muslim north and the capital Abuja that have killed hundreds of people this year. Boko Haram is a movement seeking to impose strict Islamic law in the country.

At least 53 people were killed yesterday in a series of suicide explosions that targeted churches around the northern Nigerian cities of Zaria and Kaduna, Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress, whose organization helped in rescue operations, said.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s biggest oil producer, is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

U.S. and European officials have grown increasingly concerned about the growth of Islamic terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in northern Africa from Somalia through Niger and Mali to Mauritania, U.S. officials said last week.

Boko Haram has been growing in size, reach, and lethality, Amanda Dory, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, told the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ senior leader seminar today in Nigeria.

While the U.S. Defense Department is helping to bolster the Nigerian military, the effort to defuse the group “must focus on addressing underlying socioeconomic, political, environmental and governance challenges from a Nigerian basis,” she said.

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