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Africa
Deaths as blast targets Nigerian church
Several killed in central city of Jos in bomb explosion amid reports of reprisal attacks.
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2012 11:27
Bomb blasts are becoming a weekly occurrence in some states in central and northern Nigeria [Reuters]

Tension prevails in the central Nigerian city where a suicide car bomber attacked a Catholic church on Sunday, killing at least 14 people and touching off retaliatory violence.
 
The bomb exploded as worshippers attended the final Mass of the day at St Finbar's Catholic Church in Jos, a city where thousands have died in the last decade in religious and ethnic violence.

Security at the gate of the church's compound stopped the suspicious car and the bomber detonated his explosives during an altercation that followed, Pam Ayuba, Plateau state spokesman, said.

At least four people are said to have been killed by the explosion. Several soldiers were also wounded in the blast.

"There are rumours of reprisals from Christian youths, but we hope the security agents are on top of the situation as they have cordoned off the area"

- Al Hassan Aliyu,
Jos co-ordinator for NEMA

The bombing sparked retaliatory violence in Jos later on Sunday, with angry youths burning down homes and soldiers guarding the city opening fire in neighbourhoods, witnesses said.

That violence claimed at least 10 lives.

No group immediately claimed responsibility though the city has been targeted in the past by a radical Islamist group known as Boko Haram.

Jos lies in the so-called middle belt region dividing the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, and hundreds of people have been killed in clashes in the city between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups in recent years.

Boko Haram claimed a series of bombings in Jos on Christmas Eve in 2010 that killed as many as 80 people.

The group also claimed a similar church bombing on February 26 on the main headquarters of the Church of Christ, which killed three people and wounded 38 others.

Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, reporting from Lagos, said that the bombings have the hallmark of Boko Haram, though no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Bomb blasts are becoming a weekly occurrence in Nigeria and people in the affected states are feeling increasingly vulnerable," she said.

Violence blamed on Boko Haram has since 2009 has claimed more than 1,000 lives, including more than 300 this year, according to figures tallied by the AFP news agency and rights groups.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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