KANO, Nigeria  - Nigerian extremists shot dead a seven-year-old girl in a failed attempt to kill her policeman father, one of a spate of Easter weekend attacks that claimed over 40 lives, officials said Monday.
The Easter Sunday attack on a home in the northeastern town of Potiskum came hours after a suspected suicide bomber blew up an explosives packed vehicle near a church in the northern cultural and economic hub of Kaduna, killing 36.
Late Sunday, suspected Boko Haram gunmen opened fire into the house of a police sergeant in Potiskum, a police spokesman in Yobe State, Toyin Gbadigisin, told AFP.
“They fired shots at him while sitting in the midst of his family. He managed to avoid the bullets and scaled over the fence,” Gbadigisin told AFP.
“The gunmen shot dead his seven-year-old-daughter and seriously injured another 12-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old-son who are now in hospital.”
In another attack in the northeastern town of Dikwa early Monday, Boko Haram gunmen killed a policeman, a civilian and a local politician in coordinated attacks, the army said in a text message sent to AFP.
The attackers targeted a police station, a bank and a hotel but were quickly repelled by troops, according to Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, spokesman of the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State.
“Three Boko Haram terrorists were killed and many escaped with bullet wounds,” Musa said.
Shooting also broke out on Monday in the northeastern town of Maiduguri, considered Boko Haram’s base of operations. Soldiers shot dead two Islamists after gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint, Musa said.
The Nigerian authorities as well as foreign embassies had warned of the possibility of Easter attacks.
Late Sunday, another bomb blast rocked an area of the central Nigerian city of Jos, with an emergency spokesman reporting a number of injuries.
Boko Haram’s deadliest attack yet occurred in the northern city of Kano on January 20, when coordinated bombings and shootings claimed at least 185 lives.
An attempt to hold indirect talks between Boko Haram and the government last month appears to have collapsed, with a mediator quitting over leaks to the media and a spokesman for the Islamists saying they could not trust the government.
There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has links to outside extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda’s north African branch.
Diplomats say such links so far appear limited to training for some Boko Haram members in northern Mali with Al-Qaeda elements, without significant evidence of operational ties.
Analysts say deep poverty and frustration in Nigeria’s north has fed the violence , pushing young people toward extremism.
Nigeria’s 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.