Suicide bomber hits Catholic church in Nigeria
Five people were killed when a suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives into a Catholic church in northern Nigeria. Nearly 100 were wounded and triggering reprisal attacks in which at least two more people died, officials said.
The bomber drove a jeep into the packed St Rita's church in the Malali area of Kaduna, a volatile ethnically and religiously mixed city, on Sunday morning.
A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Kaduna said that five people had been confirmed dead, and 98 people were receiving treatment for wounds at two local hospitals.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the Islamist sect Boko Haram has claimed similar attacks in the past. It has attacked several churches as it has intensified its campaign against Christians in the past year.
"The heavy explosion also damaged so many buildings around the area," said a survivor, Linus Lighthouse, adding that he thought there had been two explosions in different parts of the church.
Other witnesses and the police said there was just one bomber.
A wall of the church was destroyed in the blast. Police later moved in and cordoned off the area.
Church attacks often take place in Nigeria's middle belt, where the largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet and where sectarian tensions run high. Kaduna lies along that faultline.
Shortly after the explosion, Christian youths took to the streets armed with sticks and knives. A Reuters journalist reported seeing two bodies on the roadside lying in pools of blood.
"We killed them and we'll do more," shouted a youth, before police chased him and his cohorts away. Police set up roadblocks and patrols across town.
At least 2,800 people have died in fighting since Boko Haram's insurrection began in 2009, according to Human Rights Watch. Most were Muslims in the north-east of the country, where it usually targets politicians and security forces.
Boko Haram says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, whose 160 million people are split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.
Another witness to the bombing, Daniel Kazah, a member of the Catholic cadets in the church, said he had seen three bodies on the church floor in the aftermath.
A spokesman for St Gerard's Catholic hospital, Sunday John, said the hospital was treating 14 wounded. Garkura hospital was treating 84 victims, the NEMA official said.
Many residents rushed indoors, fearing a wave of the sectarian killing that has periodically hit Kaduna. A bomb attack in a church in Kaduna state in June triggered a week of tit-for-tat violence during which at least 90 people were killed.
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