|A church official said the explosion happened just a few minutes after Sunday service had begun [Reuters]|
At least five people have been wounded in a bomb explosion near a church in the Nigerian town of Suleja, on the edge of the capital Abuja, authorities and witnesses said.
The blast went off near Christ Embassy Church on Sunday and shattered glass of five vehicles, nearly destroying them, according to the Reuters news agency. Grey ash was cast across the ground.
“No person died in the Suleja explosion. One person was seriously injured and is now in hospital. Four victims had minor injuries while five vehicles were damaged,” said Yushua Shuaib, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast but the radical Islamist group Boko Haram has been responsible for a series of deadly bombings in Abuja and in the country’s northeast.
Boko Haram was behind the Christmas Day car bombing of a Catholic church that killed at least 44 people.
Nigerian officials say Suleja and the surrounding Niger state have been infiltrated by the group.
Uyi Idugboe, pastor of Christ Embassy Church, said one of his congregation had spotted a suspicious looking package between two cars when he went outside to see if his vehicle was locked. He then alerted everyone to stay indoors.
“The blast struck just a few minutes after our service started at 10am,” he said.
Boko Haram has radiated from its northern heartlands and struck in or around the capital a few times, including a lorry bomb last August that gutted the United Nations headquarters and killed at least 25 people.
On Wednesday, gunmen suspected to be from Boko Haram stormed a prison in Kogi state in central Nigeria, killing one warden and freeing 119 prisoners, the prison authorities said.
Although the majority of the group’s attacks still occur in its home base in the northeast, its threat has spread and become more lethal.
At least 178 people were killed in the group’s most deadly attack last month in Nigeria’s second biggest city, Kano.