An Islamic armed group in Africa has claimed responsibility for a blast that killed or injured at least 30.

The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) armed group has spoken out to say that they were responsible for an explosion that injured or killed 30 individuals at a public market where alcohol was sold in the Taraba state in east Nigeria. The latest attack does not bode well for the region, as it implies that the ISIS-affiliated group is expanding its territory in eastern Nigeria.

According to International Christian Concern, the attack occurred on Tuesday, April 20 in the rural town of Iware. Initial police reports said that 19 people were injured and three were killed. On Wednesday, the ISWAP posed a statement on a Telegram messaging channel that they used, claiming that those who detonated hte bomb in the public market were "soldiers of the caliphate in central Nigeria."

The Islamic group said that the attack had struck "a gathering of infidel Christians" and expressed approval that the place where the alcohol market once stood had been destroyed. For more than 10 years now, the northeast region of Nigeria has been plagued wih rebellion. But the state of Taraba had never witnessed such immense violence before.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and through the years, citizens have witnessed a rise in crime and violence made worse by the COVID pandemic. Armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom have become increasingly common, while the northeastern parts of Nigeria saw an increase in mass abductions of children from schools and blatant attacks on towns and villages by armed gangs.

The most intense conflict however still lies in the northeast, where Boko Haram and ISWAP, an Islamic group that independently established themselves from the former, have carried out murders, abductions, and mass lotting while fighting the Nigerian military.

Meanwhile, in the nearby Central Africa Republic (CAR), almost two-thirds of its entire population are in need of humanitarian aid and protection just to survive this year, the United Nations said as per Mission News Online. This is due to the increasing rate of violence in the area, in part due to the lack of the leadership of a government.

"The Central African Republic is without a functioning government; a civil war [has been] going on for years. A lot of [the turmoil] comes down to tribal animosities," Todd Nettleton of the Voice of the Martyrs USA reported.

Because of the increasing violence, CAR has become the focus of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which Nettleton claims "talks a lot about the persecution of Muslims, and even identifies foreign fighters linked with Russia as the persecutors, but doesn't talk about the biblical disciples persecuted by both Muslims and militant groups."

Now, Voice of the Martyrs are "helping provide education for the young believers [in CAR], to raise leaders for the church." Nettleton reported that in CAR, there are different militant group. One militant group is described as "nominally Muslims," while another group claim to be Christians. Caught in between are regular Christians, "biblical disciples" who simply want to live peacefully. But they continue to suffer persecution, as their houses are being destroyed and thousands remain displaced.