Suicide bomber hits north Nigeria Catholic church [killing eight and injuring about 100]
APNews | 10/28/12
KADUNA, Nigeria (AP) — A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives Sunday at a Catholic church holding Mass in northern Nigeria, injuring [about 100] worshippers and killing [eight] people, officials and witnesses said.
The attack happened in the Malali neighborhood of Kaduna, a city on the dividing line between Nigeria’s largely Christian south and Muslim north where religious rioting has killed hundreds in recent years. The car tried to force its way past the gate at St. Rita’s Catholic church just before it exploded, witnesses at the church said.
Yushua Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, also said initial information suggested the attack was by a suicide bomber in a car. He said “a number of casualties” had been taken to local hospitals, but could not give a specific number. Saidu Adamu, a spokesman for Kaduna state government, said it appeared some people had been killed, but officials still were uncertain how many died.
Police officers and soldiers surrounded the site of the blast. Security officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the Muslims in the nation are celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday in Nigeria. In recent days, rumors have circulated that the radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, which is responsible 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. However, the group, which speaks to journalists in telephone conference calls at times of its choosing, could not be immediately reached for comment.
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 on Easter in Kaduna killed at least 38 people on a busy roadway after witnesses say it was turned away from a church.
After the April 2011 presidential election, protests in Kaduna over Christian Goodluck Jonathan winning quickly turned into ethnic and religious violence that saw hundreds killed in that state alone. On Oct. 14, gunmen armed with assault rifles attacked a rural Kaduna state village, killing at least 24 people, including worshippers leaving a mosque after prayers before dawn. Officials said the attack likely came from a criminal gang angry over the village killing some of their men. In another attack Sept. 30, gunmen detonated a bomb near an Islamic school in Zaria.
The city appeared calm after the suicide car bombing Sunday, though such violence can spark reprisals. Three church bombings in June claimed by Boko Haram and retaliatory violence after the attacks in Kaduna killed at least 50 people.