Deadly blast near Nigeria’s flashpoint city of Jos

At least five people have been killed in an explosion near Nigeria’s central city of Jos, officials say. The cause of the blast, which also injured a number of people, was not immediately known. Some reports say there were several explosions.

The blast happened in an area that has seen up to 1,000 people killed this year in sectarian clashes. A local military official told the BBC that security forces were now patrolling the area. Jos lies on the fault-line between Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and its largely Christian and animist south. Although the clashes take place between rivals gangs of Muslims and Christians, observers say the underlying causes are economic and political.

Muslims are generally from the Hausa- or Fulani-speaking communities. They are often nomadic people who live from rearing animals or petty trade.

The mainly Christian Berom, Anaguta and Afisare groups have traditionally been farmers. Some Christian farmers feel they are under threat, as Hausa-speaking Muslims come down from the north looking for pasture for their animals. In a separate development, suspected Islamist sect members attacked a Catholic church during a Christmas Eve service in northern Nigeria, a military spokesman was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Lt Abubakar Abdullahi said that soldiers had repelled the attack in the city of Maiduguri. No-one was injured. The report has not been independently confirmed – BBCNews