Twin bomb blasts in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna have claimed dozens of lives. The attacks bear the hallmarks of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
Two separate bomb blasts killed dozens of people in the city of Kaduna in northern Nigeria on Wednesday in attacks blamed on the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.
The number of casualties remains unclear, but dozens of people were reported to have been killed.
Police said the first blast targeted the convoy of a prominent Islamic cleric who has publicly criticized Boko Haram, which has been waging a deadly insurgency for the past five years.
The cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, was unharmed in the attack, but the bomber and some 25 people who had gathered at the roadside to cheer him were killed, police said.
A second bomb two hours later struck the busy Kawo area on the outskirts of Kaduna, with emergency workers saying at least 17 people were killed.
That blast was targeting the convoy of the senior Nigerian opposition leader and former president Muhammadu Buhari, according to the Reuters news agency. Buhari's son Musa told Reuters his father was not hurt in the attack.
No group immediately took responsibility for either blast, but Boko Haram has already launched several attacks outside of its heartland in northeasten Borno state, and has claimed the killings of several moderate clerics across the north.
The group, which claims it wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, killed more than 2,000 civilians in the first half of this year, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch a week ago.
In recent attacks, Boko Haram raided the northeastern town of Damboa and surrounding villages over the weekend, killing at least 50 people.
The group has come into the international spotlight since it kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in the village of Chibok, also in the northeast, on April 14th.
President Goodluck Jonathan met parents of the abducted girls and some students who had escaped for the first time on Tuesday, amid criticism of his government's handling of the hunt for the girls and their kidnappers.
tj/mkg (Reuters, AFP, AP)