Nigeria's dreaded Islamist militant group Boko Haram on Monday claimed responsibility for three deadly attacks on churches, that led to reprisal killings, leaving at least 75 people dead and 120 others wounded.
Reprisal attacks that followed the bombing of churches on Sunday in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna has caused a rise in number of deaths to 75 and injured to 120, hospital sources said.
A resident of the city, Blessing Audu told PTI that more than 30 bodies were dumped in a single cemetery located in Kaduna even as charred bodies littered the streets.
Some murdered persons were dumped inside deep wells by the angry Christian youths, she said, adding that one could see corpses along major streets of the city.
An emergency worker who opted to remain anonymous said the number of dead may be higher.
According to him, in St Gerald Hospital alone, more than 40 bodies were kept at the morgue even as 70 others were being treated for wounds.
People besieged the hospitals today in search of their missing relations. At the Barau Dikko Memorial Hospital, sources said 12 deaths were recorded with 2 others receiving treatment.
At the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) Zaria, an official of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency who on condition of anonymity said the death toll has gone up from 18 to 23.
Radical Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility for the attack by suicide bombers on the churches located in cities of Kaduna and Zaria stating that their objective is to revenge for past killings of Muslims and desecration of holy places.
"Today Almighty Allah has given us victory against Christian Churches in Kaduna and Zaria which led to the deaths of many Christians and security operatives," the spokesman for the group, Abu Qaqa said threatening more attacks.
Soldiers and policemen patrolled the cities of Zaria and Kaduna after the youth uprising that followed the Sunday attacks on three churches, two in Zaria and the other in Kaduna by suspected extremists.
Though a 24-hour curfew earlier imposed by the state government was relaxed to dusk to dawn, road blocks were mounted on strategic and sensitive areas of the two commercial cities. Banks, offices and schools remained closed in the two cities.
The Red Cross and members of the National Emergency Management Agency searched for dead bodies that weren't picked on Sunday along routes leading to Sabon Gari area, Bompai and St Louis church.
Air Force gun boat helicopters also intensified air surveillance on the troubled city of Kaduna where hundreds of people were killed after the general elections won by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. Also sighted patrolling the streets were military armoured personnel carriers.
"We are working round the clock to ensure the protection of lives and properties" police commissioner Ibrahim Idris said.
In the Christian dominated south-eastern part of the country, ethnic Igbo youths threatened reprisal on Muslims living in the area.
"Any further attack on any church and full blooded Igbo's becomes victims we cannot guarantee the safety of northerners domiciled in Eastern Nigeria," President of the Igbo Youth Movement (Elliot Uko said.
Boko Haram wants to turn the oil rich African country to an Islamic state with Sharia rule. Its suicide bombing and shooting campaign this year alone has led to the deaths of hundreds of people.
The series of attacks began on Sunday when a suicide bomber drove at high speed through a barricade at the EWCA Goodnews Wusasa Zaria church early morning.
Within minutes, another explosion occurred at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Zaria, according to Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.
Later, another bombing took place at a church in the city of Kaduna, Red Cross spokesman Andronicus Adeyemo said. Reprisal attacks by Christians on Muslims followed the bombings.