Seven dead and over 100 injured in suicide bombing on Nigerian Catholic church
A SUICIDE bomber rammed a car loaded with explosives into a Catholic church in northern Nigeria yesterday, killing at least seven worshippers and wounding more than 100 others in an attack that sparked reprisal killings.
As rescuers tried to reach the wounded in the Malali neighbourhood of the city of Kaduna, angry youths armed with machetes and clubs beat to death two Muslims passing by the still-smouldering ruins of St Rita’s Catholic church.
Police and soldiers ordered those in the neighbourhood of Christians and Muslims to go home before more violence broke out.
The car bombing, the latest high-casualty attack targeting churches, comes as people fear more reprisal killings and religious violence could follow in the city and elsewhere along Nigeria’s uneasy religious fault line separating its largely Christian south from its predominantly Muslim north.
The attack happened around 9am as the priest in charge of the parish conducted Sunday Mass. Witnesses said the bomber ploughed his SUV past a gate and a security guard before ramming into the church’s wall and detonating the explosives hidden inside the vehicle.
The blast left shattered glass and blood across the floors of the church’s sanctuary. One of the brown walls of the church caved in.
Rescuers found the bodies of seven worshippers and the suicide bomber after the attack, according to Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency.
He said more than 100 others suffered injuries in the blast and had been taken to hospital.
Kaduna state police commissioner Olufemi Adenaike said authorities had urged those living in the religiously mixed neighbourhood to return home and stay indoors to halt any further revenge attacks. A spokesman for Kaduna state government, said the rest of the city was peaceful.
Reuben Abati, a spokesman for the president, Goodluck Jonathan, said that the country’s leader condemned the attack.
“The persistence of messengers of evil will not prevail over the will of the government and the people to secure peace and safety,” Mr Abati said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the Muslims are celebrating the end of Eid al-Adha holiday in Nigeria. In recent days, rumours have circulated that the radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, which is blamed for hundreds of killings this year alone, might try to launch an attack during the holiday.
The sect has demanded the release of all its captive members and has called for strict Shariah law to be implemented across the entire country.
The sect has used suicide car bombs against churches in the past, most noticeably a 2011 Christmas Day attack on a Catholic church in Madalla near Nigeria’s capital. That attack and assaults elsewhere in the country killed at least 44 people.
An unclaimed car bombing at Easter in Kaduna killed at least 38 people on a busy roadway after witnesses say it was turned away from a church.
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