Catholic Church

Suicide bomber kills 8 in attack on Nigerian church

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 4:49am

A suicide bomber drove a jeep full of explosives into a Catholic church during morning mass in northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people, wounding more than 100 and triggering reprisal attacks that killed at least two more.

There was no claim of responsibility for Sunday's attack but Islamist sect Boko Haram has bombed several churches in the past in its fight to create an Islamic state in Nigeria where the 160 million population is evenly split between Christians and Muslims.

The bomber drove the car into the wall of the packed St Rita's church in the Malali area of Kaduna, a volatile ethnically and religiously mixed city, witnesses said.

A wall of the church was blasted open and scorched black, with debris lying around.

"The heavy explosion also damaged so many buildings around the area," said survivor Linus Lighthouse. A spokesman for the country's National Emergency Management Agency Yushua Shuaib said eight people had been confirmed killed and more than 100 wounded.

Church attacks often target Nigeria's middle belt, where its largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet and where sectarian tensions run high. Kaduna's mixed population lies along that faultline.

Shortly after the blast, angry Christian youths took to the streets armed with sticks and knives. A reporter saw two bodies at the roadside lying in pools of blood.

"We killed them and we'll do more," shouted a youth, with blood on his shirt, before police chased him and others away.

Police set up roadblocks and patrols across the town in an effort to prevent the violence spreading.

A police spokesman said later the situation was calm.

"All the areas prone to reprisal attacks are under control and getting back to normal," he said.