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Bomb kills 25 at Christmas Mass in Nigeria

At least 25 people have been killed by an explosion which ripped through a Catholic church during Christmas Mass near Nigeria's capital. The death toll is expected to rise.

A radical Muslim sect waging an increasingly sophisticated sectarian fight claimed responsibility for the attack and another bombing in the restive city of Jos, as explosions also struck the nation's north east.

One blast struck a church in the northeastern town of Gadaka and two explosions rocked the northern city of Damaturu, making five blasts in total.

The Christmas Day attacks show the growing national ambition of the sect known as Boko Haram, which is responsible for at least 491 killings this year.

The Vatican denounced the deadly Christmas Day attacks as a sign of “cruelty and absurd, blind hatred” that shows no respect for human life.

Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said the Catholic Church was praying for all Nigerians confronting “this terrorist |violence in these days that should be filled with peace and joy”.

The first explosion struck St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a town in Niger state close to the capital Abuja.

Rescue workers recovered at least 25 bodies from the church and officials continued to tally those wounded in various hospitals, said Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.

The agency has acknowledged it did not have enough ambulances on hand to help the wounded. An angry crowd that gathered at the blast site hampered rescue efforts as they refused to allow workers inside.

In Jos, a second explosion struck near a Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.

Gunmen later opened fire on police guarding the area, killing one police officer. Two other locally-made explosives were found in a nearby building and disarmed.

After the bombings, a Boko Haram spokesman claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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