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Radical Muslim Sect Claims Nigeria Church Attacks

A radical Muslim sect has claimed responsibility for attacks on churches in Nigeria that have left at least 35 people dead on Christmas Day.

A Boko Haram spokesman using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa claimed responsibility for the attacks in an interview Sunday with "The Daily Trust," the newspaper of record across Nigeria's Muslim north.

An emergency official said at least 25 people died in an explosion that struck St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, near Nigeria's capital, Abuja.

Another blast struck near a church in the central Nigerian city of Jos, while two other explosions have gone off in the northeast state of Yobe.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have been reported killed in attacks and fighting between security forces and Boko Haram.

The Reuters news agency put the death toll from the past several days of violence involving the Boko Haram sect at nearly 70. Other reports had higher death tolls.

The Nigerian Army's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, was quoted as saying soldiers had killed 59 Boko Haram members in fighting in the northeastern city of Damaturu.

The army crackdown followed a series of deadly attacks, including church bombings and shooting attacks, allegedly carried out by Boko Haram.

Boko Haram says it wants to impose Islamic Shari'a law across Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous country and is split roughly between a Christian-majority south and Muslim-majority north.

compiled from agency reports

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