Nigeria has experienced one of its worst days of violence in two years. Churches, mosques, banks and police stations were attacked as multiple bomb blasts rocked the city of Damaturu, killing at least 69 people, with some reports putting the number as high as 150. There were also separate bombings in the town of Maiduguri, where at least four people were killed.

And Nigeria's Islamist Boko Haram group, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, has warned that more are planned.

These attacks have fuelled an already steep sectarian divide in Africa's most populous country, but who are Boko Haram and what motivates their violence? How big a threat do they pose to the country's stability and why have they decided to escalate their violence now?

Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, discusses with guests: David Zounmenou, a senior researcher and specialist on Nigeria and West Africa for the Institute for Security Studies; Jonathan Offei-Ansah, the editor of News Africa; and Anthony Goldman, the director of a political and business consultancy called PM, who is also a former Nigeria analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit and the FT.

"The difficulty is the amount of weapons unleashed into the desert by the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi and of his supporters. Those weapons are simply flooding into the region, falling into wrong hands. Some of them are certain going to find their way to Boko Haram, or the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or other groups."

David Zounmenou, from the Institute for Security Studies

Source: Al Jazeera