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Deaths in Nigeria attacks on churches

Witnesses describe blast outside church in Jos city and gunmen attacking worshippersDozens of people are feared dead and injured after two separate attacks on churches in Nigeria during Sunday service, the government said.

A suicide bomber blew himself up near a church in the central city of Jos on Sunday, while gunmen attacked another church in Biu in the country's northeast.

Nigerian government spokesman Pam Ayuba said a bomb exploded near an evangelical church in Jos, a restive city on the dividing line between the nation's Muslim north and Christian south, causing casualties.

He said government sources feared "scores" of people could have been killed and injured.

Earlier attack

Earlier, in Biu, a city in northeast Nigeria's Borno state, gunmen opened fire during a service at an EYN church, an acronym that means "Church of the Brethen in Nigeria" in the local Hausa language of Nigeria's north, witnesses said.

Gunmen sprayed the congregation with bullets, killing and wounding many of them, witnesses said.

"Three gunmen came to the premises of the church and started firing at people outside the church before going into the main building to carry on their killings ... Many people have been killed and wounded," said witness Hamidu Wakawa, who was at the church in Biu Town.

Borno state police commissioner Bala Hassan confirmed the attack took place and said officers were investigating.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either incident, although attacking churches has become a trademark tactic of Boko Haram, an armed group that seeks to impose Islamic law in Nigeria.

Boko Haram, which has linked up with other Islamist groups in the region including al-Qaeda's North African wing, has become the biggest security threat in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.

It usually targets security forces, although Christian worshippers are increasingly bearing the brunt.

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