Boko Haram may be responding to an Islamic State group order to commit more mayhem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Although Boko Haram had not yet claimed responsibility for the Jos attacks, the carnage had all the hallmarks of Boko Haram.
The explosion at the Yantaya Mosque came as leading cleric Sani Yahaya of the Jama’atu Izalatul Bidia organisation, which preaches peaceful co-existence of all religions, was addressing a crowd, according to survivors.
Jos has also always been a target for attacks, sitting on the line where Nigeria’s mainly Christian south and mainly Muslim north meet.
Unidentified attackers opened fire outside with guns before launching a rocket-propelled grenade at the mosque, witnesses said.
With heavy gunfire and more than 10 loud explosions reported, local resident Zanna Shehuri told AFP, “Boko Haram are now in Zabarmari trying to come into Maiduguri but are facing stiff resistance from soldiers”.
The attacks in Jos closely follow those of Potiskum, a city in northeastern Yobe state where a woman suicide bomber blew up in the midst of a crowded Evangelical Christian church service killing at least five people.
“At the moment we have 44 dead bodies and 47 others injured from the scenes of the two attacks”, said Mohammed Abdulsalam, from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Before the March presidential vote, his All Progressives Congress party put up billboards around the country that promised, “We will defeat Boko Haram“. In January, three people were killed and 43 hurt during a bombing in a market.
It is the worst violence since President Muhammadu Buhari was elected March 28 vowing to crush the 6-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed more than 13,000 people.
“We are trying to move from one hospital to another to determine how many have died”, he said.
Boko Haram may no longer hold territory but there is little to celebrate when large swathes of the north-east are clearly not under any kind of government control.
The Senate president called on Nigerians not to be discouraged over these renewed attacks, while also calling on the Boko Haram sect to accept the federal government’s olive branch, using the opportunity to drop their weapons.
The armies managed to push the militants out of several towns and villages, but the recent attacks show the group to be far from defeated.