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Nigerian villages attacked

Residents say Boko Haram assaulted three villages in northern Nigeria, killing 48 people on Wednesday, hours after twin bombings claimed at least 118 lives in this central city in an attack the government blamed on the Islamic extremists.

One of the villages attacked between Tuesday night and early Wednesday is near the town of Chibok, where more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped last month by Boko Haram, according to residents and a state intelligence agent who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.

Apagu Maidaga of Alagarno said residents  watched while the extremists set ablaze their homes of thatch-roofed mud huts.

"We saw our village up in flames as we hid in the bush waiting for the dawn; we lost everything," he told The Associated Press in a telephone call.

In Jos, where at least 118 people were killed in twin bomb attacks Tuesday, residents joined rescue workers armed with body bags in looking for missing loved ones.

Most victims were women and children vendors, said Mohammed Abdulsalam of the National Emergency Management Agency.

"We expect to find more bodies in the rubble," Abdulsalam said.

"Allahu akhbar!" some young Muslim men yelled provocatively at an AP photographer near the scene, using the war cry of Islamic militants that means "God is great" within hearing of soldiers at a checkpoint.

Jos is tense with fears the attack blamed on Islamic extremists could inflame religious rivalry. The city in central Nigeria sits on a volatile fault line dividing Nigeria's mainly Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south and has been a flashpoint in the past for deadly conflict between adherents of the two religions. Boko Haram, the group suspected in the attack, wants to impose an Islamic state under strict Shariah law in Nigeria, though half the country's 170 million people are Christians.

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja condemned Tuesday's attack and said the United States is helping Nigeria to "grapple with violent extremism."

It also urged calm in Jos. "We have seen reports that tensions are high in Jos, and we join the voices of those who are appealing for calm."

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