Nigeria attack targets Catholic church in Jos

March 12, 2012

At least 10 people were killed after a Catholic church was targeted by suicide car bombers in the restive central Nigerian city of Jos, officials say.

The bomber detonated explosives after being stopped at the church gates.

No group has said it carried out the bombing, although Islamist militant group Boko Haram said it was behind a similar attack on a church last month.

There have been reprisal attacks against Muslims in Jos, with reports of shops being set on fire.

Emergency officials said that four people - including the bomber - were immediately pronounced dead at St Finbar's Church in the Rayfield area of Jos.

Eyewitnesses said the suicide bombers refused to open the boot of their car when challenged at the church gates before detonating the explosives as worshippers approached them.

Parish priest Rev Peter Umoren recalled the moment of the explosion.

"Just barely 10 minutes into the mass, I heard these blasts... and there was this chaos and the people were finding their way out of the church," he said.

Pam Ayuba, a spokesperson for Plateau state where Jos is located, told the Associated Press that the blast damaged the church's roof, blew out its windows and destroyed a portion of the perimeter fence.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attack but said the government was "winning the war against the terrorists".

He called on people "to remain patient and refrain from taking matters into their own hands through actions such as reprisal attacks".

However, groups of youths roamed the streets of Jos attacking Muslims and setting their houses on fire.

Plateau state lies on the fault line between Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and Christian and animist south.

It has witnessed numerous inter-communal clashes in recent years and Boko Haram has targeted several churches in Jos, the state capital.


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