Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Islamic sect Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for Sunday's coordinated suicide bomb attacks on three churches in two cities in Nigeria's northern Kaduna state that the police said left 16 dead, the local Peoples Daily newspaper reported Monday.
The paper quoted sect spokesman Abul Qaga as saying in a statement that the attacks were part of retaliation for a series of alleged killings of Muslims in various parts of the country.
The statement, which was written in the local Hausa language and entitled ''Sako daga mujahidai'' (Message from the Jihadists), warned Nigerian Christians to ''either convert to Islam or take it that war has been declared'' on them.
It also warned security forces that their sons and other families would also be made targets of attacks, just like the have been turning their guns on the sect's members.
Acting Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Abubakar said in a statement on Sunday that 16 people died when suicide bombers drove their explosive-packed vehicles into the ECWA and CKC Catholic Churches in Zaria and the Shallom Church in Kaduna, located some 60 kilometres away.
But local newspapers, quoting hospital sources in the affected cities, put the death toll at between 40 and 48, with at least 11 killed in reprisal attacks launched by Christian youths.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for deadly suicide bombing and gun attacks on churches for three Sunday's in a row, including the one in Bauchi (3 June) as well as Jos and Biu (10 June), all in the predominantly-Muslim northern Nigeria.
Attacks by the sect have claimed over 1,200 lives since 2009, according to Nigeria's Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin.
-0- PANA SEG 18June2012