Nigeria's Jonathan vows to "crush terrorists"

Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:26pm GMT

* Jonathan hardens rhetoric as relatives mourn dead

* Security tight for New Year celebrations

By Felix Onuah and Tim Cocks

ABUJA, Dec 31 (Reuters) - President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on Saturday to "crush the terrorists" who set off a series of bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day, while he visited a church in which one bomb killed at least 37 people.

The blasts last Sunday, including three aimed at churches, raised fears that Boko Haram, a movement styled on the Taliban whose name means "Western education is forbidden", is trying to ignite sectarian strife in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and top oil producer.

The deadliest attack struck St. Theresa's Catholic church in Madalla, on the edge of the capital, Abuja, killing 37 people and wounding 57, according to the latest toll.

A spokesman for the emergency services said the country was on high alert, with an expanded security presence, for New Year.

During a brief visit to the church, amid tight security by dozens of armed soldiers, Jonathan offered condolences to relatives of the victims, many of them weeping after a vigil.

"We assure Nigerians that we will protect them. We have taken some steps which I'm going to announce tonight," he said. "We will crush the terrorists. If there are institutions ... which are harbouring terrorists, we will deal with them."   Continued...

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