Boko Haram, an Islamist group, claimed responsibility for planning and carrying out a series of coordinated attacks targeting churches in Nigeria on Christmas Day. The most serious blast took place on the outskirts of the capital Abuja claiming at least 30 lives; in all as many as 40 people have been killed.
"Boko Haram is trying to create the maximum effect in terms of killing large numbers of people. The political effect is to create tensions within the ruling party itself, the PDP, which is a coalition of people from the north, the south, the east and the west and also Christians and Muslims. In the larger society itself, it aims to create more tension between Muslims and Christians, leading to a greater degree of segregation between the populations".
- Patrick Wilmot, a Nigerian writer
The attacks took place days after nearly 70 people were killed in clashes between Nigerian security forces and Boko Haram gunmen in the country's north-east.
Observers say the group, which has carried out dozens of violent attacks since its formation, is increasingly expanding the scope and sophistication of its operations.
The Nigerian government is facing heavy public criticism for its inability to curb the attacks - despite intensive military operations and multiple arrests of people claimed to be Boko Haram followers.
What lies behind these ongoing violent attacks in Africa's most populous country? And what is the Nigerian government doing to stop them?
Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with guests: Malam Garba Sani, a senior official at the Nigerian Muslim Forum based in the UK; David Anderson, a professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford; and Patrick Wilmot, a Nigerian writer and political commentator on African Affairs.
"Boko Haram is not only expanding in terms of its area of operation, but also in terms of targets, in terms of strength, in terms of overall ability to strike. However it is only indicative of the level of strength and ability that Boko Haram has. It hasn't yet elaborated or disclosed the strength of this organisation yet."
Malam Garba Sani, a senior official at the Nigerian Muslim Forum
Source: Al Jazeera