Seven people have been reported dead and several others injured following a suicide bombing which occurred during a mass at a catholic church in northern Nigeria.
The suspected suicide attacker attempted to crash a car bomb into a Catholic church during services on Sunday; The vehicle drove into the church and detonated its weight, ripping a hole in the wall and roof. Sources said that the attacker had wanted to drive into the church, but seemed to have hit a barrier. The driver originally reversed, but then careered straight through the church wall and detonated the bomb. Members of the choir are thought to be among the dead and injured. The church was surrounded by soldiers and police after the blast, and ambulances were taking the injured to hospital. The strong blast which shook the neighbourhood has led to fears of a fresh outbreak of revenge attacks and clashes between Christians and Muslims which has been targeted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the recent past.
President Goodluck Jonathan in a statement promised to redouble his government’s efforts in order to tackle terrorism and violence. He called the attack as part of an unfortunate and unacceptable trend that threatens the peace and stability of the nation. A spokesman for the local governor has called for calm, pleading with people on local radio not to retaliate.
Christian youths attacked a vehicle that had come to rescue survivors after the attack; smashing one of the windows says the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency in a BBC report. An unofficial report says at least two people were killed in reprisal attacks by Christians after the bombing but no group has claimed the accusation of the bombing which happened at St Rita’s church in the Malali neighbourhood of the city.
Nigeria’s north has a large Muslim majority whereas the south is most populated by Christians and those who follow traditional religions. Kaduna is on the dividing line between the two areas. A BBC’s report says that many people have come to the city in recent months in search of refuge from violence in other parts of northern Nigeria where the Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow the government and impose an extreme form of Islamic law. The group has said it carried out previous attacks on churches in Kaduna state in June. At least 50 people were killed in the bombings and the reprisals that followed. Nigerians have grown increasingly frustrated with security forces’ inability to stop Boko Haram attacks, and there have been warnings of more reprisals if the violence continued. Some Evangelical church leaders in Nigeria have said Christians may be forced to defend themselves if something is not done to address the violence.