A series of explosions in Nigeria, many at churches holding Christmas services, have killed at least 25 people. The explosion in Madalla, 25 miles from the capital of Abuja, is where the fatalities are being reported. The NY Times reports, "A radical Muslim sect, Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility."

An Al Jazeera correspondent said of the Madalla bombing, "I am standing near a huge crater left in the road. The damage to structures and buildings can be seen from 150m away. The church and surrounding shops and homes were also damaged... At least eight cars and two motorcycles were burnt beyond recognition." A source also told Al Jazeera that"at least 25 bodies were removed from the carnage. The source added that six of the bodies had been mutilated."

Rev. Michael Ekpenyong said, "Lives have been lost but we do not have the details. The area has been cordoned off. I tried to call the priest but I couldn't get through."

The other bombings were at the Mountain of Fire Ministries in Jos (a local journalist told CNN that no one was killed "but a policeman who engaged the attackers in a gun battle died of his wounds later"), in Gadaka, and two in the town of Damaturu.

According to CNN, "Boko Haram translates from the local Hausa as 'Western education is outlawed.' The group has morphed into an insurgency responsible for dozens of attacks in Nigeria in the last two years. Boko Haram's targets include police outposts and churches as well as places associated with 'Western influence.'"