Twin explosions rock central Nigerian city of Jos, activists say at least 31 killed



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JOS, Nigeria — Activists said at least 31 people were killed Thursday when twin explosions rocked downtown Jos in central Nigeria in what appears to be the latest attack by Islamic extremists.

The blasts occurred as store owners were shutting their shops and Muslims were preparing for evening prayers.

One blast went off at an outdoor food stand called Mr Bigs and the other at the nearby entrance to the Terminus market in the center of the city, according to witnesses who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Soldiers and police said they were ferrying the wounded to hospitals.

Rescue workers had evacuated 31 bodies and operations were continuing, civil rights lawyer Ahmed Garba told The Associated Press. Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation charity said rescue workers also told him at least 31 people were killed and several were injured, some critically.

In May, twin car bombs in Jos' Terminus marketplace killed at least 130 people.

Those attacks were blamed on Islamic extremists from the Boko Haram group and were seen as an attempt to ignite fighting between Muslims and Christians. Jos is in Nigeria's Middle Belt, where the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south meet and violence between the two groups is commonplace.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday's attack but it bore all the signs of Boko Haram.

In northern Kano, Nigeria's second largest city, police commissioner Aderenle Shinaba told reporters they safely detonated a bomb hidden in a handbag. The bag had been planted Thursday in a supermarket favored by foreigners.

Separately, police in Kano arrested a teenage girl wearing a jacket primed with explosives, according to an officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.

Several bombs in recent months have been detonated by female suicide bombers, raising fears that Boko Haram is using some of the hundreds of kidnapped girls and young women for its attacks.

Twin bomb blasts killed at least 102 people at the main mosque in Kano on Nov. 29, when gunmen also shot at people trying to escape.

At least 75 people have been killed in bomb blasts by female suicide bombers in recent weeks in Maiduguri, the northeastern capital of Borno state that is the birthplace of Boko Haram.

The extremist group has taken over several towns and villages along the northeast border with Cameroon, where it has declared an Islamic caliphate.

Thousands of people have died and 1.2 million have been forced from their homes in the 5-year-old insurgency.

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Faul reported from York, England. Ibrahim Garba contributed to this report from Kano.

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