By Heather Murdock
Twin suicide bombers have attacked a church inside a military base in Nigeria’s Kaduna State, a volatile area known for sectarian and religious violence. Reuters news agency quotes a military spokesman as saying 11 people were killed and dozens injured.
Authorities say a bus was driven into St. Andrews Protestant Church inside a military base around noon Sunday, about ten minutes before a second suicide bomber detonated a Toyota Camry just outside.
In an e-mail to reporters, the director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Bola Koleoso, said he cannot yet confirm a casualty count but the injured have been taken to two separate hospitals.
Christian Association of Nigeria Youth Chair Diji Haruna says the church service was over when the bombs went off, but clergy and choir members were still inside.
“Today is another bad day for Nigeria. It’s another bad day for Christians, both Christians and Muslims. Anybody that loves peace, today is a bad day for them,” said Haruna.
The bombing took place in Jaji town about 30 kilometers from the state capital. Haruna says the military has now locked down the area. Although the bombs went off hours ago, he says information is still scarce.
“The people that died are being carried to the mortuary and those who are injured are being carried to the hospital. It should be a military hospital in which they will still quarantine the place. You hardly get access to those places,” said Haruna.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is similar to others attributed to the Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram, which says it wants jailed members freed and the implementation of Islamic law.
Previous church bombings in Kaduna have set off waves of reprisal attacks. About 100 people were killed in clashes between Christians and Muslims after a church bombing in June.
Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,400 deaths in the past three years, claiming attacks on churches, security forces, schools, government offices, markets, communications networks, newspapers, and the local U.N. headquarters.
Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.