Day of extremist violence across Nigeria kills more than 60

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Dozens Killed In Suspected Boko Haram Attacks In Nigeria
JOS, Nigeria (AP) -- A day of extremist violence against both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria killed more than 60 people, including worshippers in a mosque who came to hear a cleric known for preaching about peaceful coexistence of all faiths.

Militants from Boko Haram were blamed for the bombings Sunday night at a crowded mosque and a posh Muslim restaurant in the central city of Jos; a suicide bombing earlier at an evangelical Christian church in the northeastern city of Potiskum, and attacks in several northeastern villages where dozens of churches and about 300 homes were torched.

In a failed attempt Monday night, a woman wired with explosives blew up near a mosque in Kano, Nigeria's second largest city, which has suffered many bomb blasts that killed hundreds in the past, according to police Assistant Superintendent Musa Magaji Majia. There were no other casualties besides the bomber.

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Bombs at mosque, restaurant in central Nigerian city kill 44
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Day of extremist violence across Nigeria kills more than 60
Blood stains the floor of a restaurant in a shopping complex in the central Nigerian city of Jos, Plateau State, on July 6, 2015, after twin bomb blasts the day before. At least 44 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in the central Nigerian city of Jos, the country's main relief agency said on July 6, after a bloody week of violence blamed on Boko Haram. The blasts happened within minutes of each other at a shopping complex and near a mosque in the religiously divided capital of Plateau state, which the rebels have targeted before. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
The bodies of victims of twin bomb blasts are prepared for burial in the north-central Nigerian city of Jos on July 6, 2015. At least 44 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in the central Nigerian city of Jos, the country's main relief agency said, after a bloody week of violence blamed on Boko Haram. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The burnt First African Church Mission of Jos is pictured on July 6, 2015 in the central Nigerian city of Jos, Plateau State, after a twin bomb blasts killed at least 44 people the day before, following a wave of mass casualty attacks blamed on Boko Haram militants. The blasts happened within minutes of each other at a shopping complex and near a mosque in the religiously divided capital of Plateau state, which the rebels have targeted before. The bombings took the death toll from raids, explosions and suicide attacks to 267 this month alone and to 524 since Muhammadu Buhari became president on May 29, according to an AFP count. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand on July 6, 2015 in the central Nigerian city of Jos, Plateau State, at the scene where a twin bomb blasts the day before and killed at least 44 people, following a wave of mass casualty attacks blamed on Boko Haram militants. The blasts happened within minutes of each other at a shopping complex and near a mosque in the religiously divided capital of Plateau state, which the rebels have targeted before. The bombings took the death toll from raids, explosions and suicide attacks to 267 this month alone and to 524 since Muhammadu Buhari became president on May 29, according to an AFP count. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand on July 6, 2015 in the central Nigerian city of Jos, Plateau State, at the scene where a twin bomb blasts the day before killed at least 44 people, after a wave of mass casualty attacks blamed on Boko Haram militants. The blasts happened within minutes of each other at a shopping complex and near a mosque in the religiously divided capital of Plateau state, which the rebels have targeted before. The bombings took the death toll from raids, explosions and suicide attacks to 267 this month alone and to 524 since Muhammadu Buhari became president on May 29, according to an AFP count. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
The wreckage of car is pictured on July 6, 2015 in the central Nigerian city of Jos, Plateau State, the day after a twin bomb blasts that killed at least 44 people, after a wave of mass casualty attacks blamed on Boko Haram militants. The blasts happened within minutes of each other at a shopping complex and near a mosque in the religiously divided capital of Plateau state, which the rebels have targeted before. The bombings took the death toll from raids, explosions and suicide attacks to 267 this month alone and to 524 since Muhammadu Buhari became president on May 29, according to an AFP count. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
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In the latest outbreak of violence, Boko Haram extremists have killed about 300 people in the past week - apparently after an order by the self-proclaimed Islamic State group for more mayhem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Earlier this year, Boko Haram became an affiliate of the Islamic State group which has proclaimed a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria under its control.

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.

Buhari has condemned the recent attacks and said the government will defend Nigerians' right to worship freely.

The deadliest attack came last Wednesday when more than 140 people were killed - mostly men and boys mowed down by gunfire as they prayed in mosques in the northeastern town of Kukawa.

Burials were held Monday for 51 people killed by the two bombings a day earlier in Jos, said Muslim community lawyer Ahmed Garba.

Another 67 people were wounded, according to Abdussalam Mohammed, the National Emergency Management Agency coordinator.

The explosion at the Yantaya Mosque came as cleric Sani Yahaya was addressing the worshippers, survivors said. Yahaya is the national chairman of the Jama'atu Izalatul Bidia organization, which preaches that all religions should peacefully coexist.

Garba said gunmen also opened fire on the mosque from three directions.

Survivor Danladi Sani said he saw a man dressed in white take aim at Yahaya, and then blow himself up. Yahaya was unharmed, Sani added.

"He is a great Islamic scholar who has spoken out against Boko Haram, and that is why we believe he was the target," Sani told The Associated Press.

Another bomb exploded at Shagalinku, a restaurant often patronized by state governors and other top politicians for its specialties popular with Muslims, witnesses said.

Sabi'u Bako was picking up a takeout meal when he heard a massive explosion as he walked away with friends.

"The restaurant was destroyed, and we saw many people covered in blood," he said. "We can't believe that we escaped."

Jos is a hotspot for violent religious confrontations because it is located in the center of the country where Nigeria's majority Muslim north meets the mainly Christian south. The city has been targeted by bombs claimed by Boko Haram extremists that have killed hundreds.

Earlier Sunday, a female suicide bomber struck a crowded service of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Potiskum, killing six people, witnesses said.

Elsewhere in the northeast, extremists killed nine people and burned down 32 churches and about 300 homes in several villages, said Stephen Apagu, chairman of a self-defense group in Borno state's Askira-Uba local government area. He said the militia killed three militants.

The villages had been attacked three days earlier and 29 people were killed.

The United States condemned the recent attacks and said it continues to provide counterterrorism assistance to Nigeria to "combat the threat posed by Boko Haram," said a statement Monday from State Department spokesman John Kirby.

Boko Haram took over a large swath of northeastern Nigeria last year. A multinational force from Nigeria and its neighbors forced the militants out of many towns, but bombings and village attacks have increased in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's military freed 180 detainees who had been held for up to two years, accused of being Boko Haram members. Those freed Monday included women with babies and toddlers.

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Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria. Associated Press writer Haruna Umar in Maiduguri, Nigeria, contributed to this report.

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This version has been corrected to show that only the mosque bombing in Jos was a suicide attack.

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