LAGOS, Nigeria — As Nigerian officials announced arrests Monday in connection with the deadly bombings of churches on Christmas Day, a U.S. general voiced new concerns about the shadowy Islamist insurgency that claimed responsibility.
Nigeria's national security adviser, Owoeye Azazi, said two men had been arrested in connection with the bombing at St. Theresa Catholic Church and that they are suspected of being members of the Boko Haram sect, which claimed responsibility.
Azazi said three suspects had driven past the church in Madala, on the outskirts of the capital, throwing a bomb into the church "from a moving vehicle in the glare of everyone." One of the men died in the explosion, he said.
Azazi's version contradicted some earlier accounts of the blast. Local media had quoted witnesses as saying that a lone suicide bomber drove into the church and detonated the explosive.
At least 35 people died at St. Theresa, and dozens more were wounded. Four more people were killed in other violence blamed on Boko Haram.
U.S. military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials have voiced alarm about the growing operational abilities of Boko Haram and its potential ties to al-Qaida affiliates.
"There's no reason to doubt Boko Haram's claim," Gen. Carter Ham, who leads the U.S. military's Africa Command, said in an email Monday. "All the characteristics fit their profile. Sadly, these attacks are wholly consistent with Boko Haram's increasingly violent ideology."