The death toll from a series of Christmas Eve blasts in central Nigeria has risen to 32, the police commissioner said on Saturday, while attributing the explosions to attacks with homemade devices.
"We lost 32 and 74 were injured," Plateau state police commissioner Abdulrahman Akano said of the explosions in the city of Jos, which has been hit by repeated sectarian violence that authorities say has been stoked by politics.
He said there were a total of seven explosions with homemade devices in two separate areas. It appeared dynamite was used, he said.
While the region has been hit by violence in the past, often involving inter-communal clashes and reprisals, the explosions marked a dramatic turn in the situation.
"This is the very first time explosives of this magnitude are involved," said Akano.
Police had not determined who was behind the blasts, he said. "People were doing their shopping," he said of the areas where the explosions went off. "The place targeted had all kinds of people there -- Muslims, non-Muslims."
Jos is in the so-called middle-belt region between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south and has long been a hotspot of ethnic and religious friction in Nigeria. Local rights groups say 1,500 people have died in inter-communal violence in the Jos region this year alone.
Observers have warned that violence could increase in Jos and other areas of Nigeria ahead of elections to be held in April.