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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) -- A statement attributed to Boko Haram says the radical Islamist group launched the attacks that left at least 58 people dead in central Nigeria this past weekend.
The statement says Christians "will not know peace again" if they do not accept Islam. It also expresses what it calls "delight over the success of the attacks."
The Nigerian army says hundreds of assailants armed with guns and machetes stormed a dozen Christian villages on Saturday.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, says the U.S. should officially declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization. He told a congressional hearing in Washington that failing to do so ignores both the persecution of Nigerian Christians and the threat that Boko Haram poses to the U.S. if it isn't stopped.
The State Department has only applied the terrorist designation to three Boko Haram leaders.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)