Bomb blamed on Boko Haram kills 20 in northern Nigeria

A bomb blast in Nigeria's northern university town of Zaria killed 25 people Tuesday including a 2-year-old toddler, the Kaduna state governor reported, the latest in a string of deadly bombing and shooting attacks by the Boko Haram Islamic extremists.

Gov. Nasir el-Rufai urged citizens to avoid crowded public places including mosques and churches as the militants widen and accelerate the pace of attacks that have killed some 300 people in a week. Boko Haram may be responding to an Islamic State group order to commit more mayhem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The blast targeted government headquarters in the historic Muslim town as civil servants assembled to welcome a new chairman, El-Rufai said in an email to The Associated Press.

"Terrorists detonated explosives that killed and injured several persons ... (with) 25 fatalities including a 2-year-old," el-Rufai said.

Thirty-two wounded victims are being treated at the university teaching hospital, he said.

Boko Haram wants to install an Islamic state across the West African nation of about 170 million people divided between a predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. The extremists say democracy has brought nothing but woes to Nigerians plagued by endemic corruption that keeps Africa's biggest oil producer and richest economy mired in poverty.

Nigeria's police force Monday night announced increased security around mosques and churches after Boko Haram assaults on Sunday killed more than 60 people in a mosque and posh Muslim restaurant in central Jos city and at an evangelical Christian church in northeastern Potiskum town.

The attacks come just five weeks into the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim and former military dictator who has vowed to crush the 6-year-old insurgency that has killed more than 13,000 people and driven 1.5 million from their homes.