At least seven die in attack on Nigerian Catholic church
A suicide bomber rammed an SUV loaded with explosives into a Catholic church holding Mass in northern Nigeria.
At least seven people were killed and more than 100 others wounded in yesterday’s attack, which sparked reprisal killings in the city, said authorities and witnesses.
As rescuers tried to reach the wounded in the Malali neighbourhood of Kaduna, angry youths armed with machetes and clubs beat to death two Muslims passing by the still-smouldering ruins of St Rita’s Church.
The men’s corpses were seen outside the worship hall as police and soldiers ordered those in the neighbourhood of Christians and Muslims to go home before further violence erupted.
The car bombing – the latest high-casualty attack targeting churches – comes as people fear more reprisal killings. Religious violence could follow in this city and elsewhere along Nigeria’s uneasy religious fault line separating its largely Christian south from its predominantly Muslim north.
The attack happened at about 9am as the priest of the parish celebrated Mass.
Witnesses said the suicide bomber ploughed his vehicle 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 and bore scorch marks from the blast.
Rescuers found the bodies of seven worshippers and the suicide bomber after the attack, said Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Mr Shuaib said more than 100 others suffered injuries in the blast and had been taken to local hospitals.
Kaduna state police commissioner Olufemi Adenaike said at the church that authorities had urged those living in the religiously mixed neighbourhood to return home and stay indoors to prevent any further revenge attacks.
Saidu Adamu, a spokesman for Kaduna state government, said the rest of the city was peaceful.
Reuben Abati, a spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, said the nation’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,” said Mr Abati.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as Muslims in Nigeria celebrate the end of Eid al-Adha holiday in the African state.
In recent days, rumours have circulated that radical Islamist sect 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 Sharia law to be implemented across the entire country.