Christmas attacks in Nigeria kill at least 39

LAGOS, Nigeria

Rescue crews picked through the charred shells of cars outside St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, near Nigeria's capital, as they searched for victims.

Authorities acknowledged they could not bring enough emergency medical personnel to care for the wounded.

Elsewhere, a bomb exploded amid gunfire in the central Nigeria city of Jos and a suicide car bomber attacked the military in the nation's northeast as part of an apparently coordinated assault by the sect known as Boko Haram.

Despite a recent paramilitary crackdown against the sect in the oil-rich nation, it appears that Africa's most populous nation remains unable to stop the threat.

The White House condemned what it called a "senseless" attack, offered its condolences to the Nigerian people and pledged to assist authorities in bringing those responsible to justice.

The Christmas Day violence, also denounced by world leaders and the Vatican, shows the threat of the widening insurrection posed by Boko Haram against Nigeria's weak central government.

The first explosion on Sunday struck St. Theresa Catholic Church just after 8 a.m. The attack killed 35 people and wounded another 52, authorities said.

Elsewhere, a bomb exploded amid gunfire in a city in central Nigeria and a suicide car bomber attacked the military in Nigeria's northeast.

President Barack Obama has been monitoring developments from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.

The White House say U.S. officials have been in contact with their counterparts in Nigeria and are pledging to help in bringing those responsibly to justice.

This Christmas attack comes a year after a series of Christmas Eve bombings in Jos claimed by the militants left at least 32 dead and 74 wounded. The group also claimed responsibility for the Aug. 26 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria's capital Abuja that killed 24 people and wounded 116 others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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