Dozens Hurt, Curfew Imposed as Blasts Hit Five Nigeria Churches

Posted on: June 17, 2012 at 00:19
Bomb blasts damaged five churches in four cities in Nigeria's northern Kaduna state on Sunday, injuring dozens of worshippers and leading to an immediate curfew, officials said.

The number of casualties in the blasts in the neighboring cities of Zaria and Kaduna and in the southern Christian-dominated Nassarawa and Barnawa was not immediately clear. Police and the military cordoned off the areas.

Kaduna state authorities immediately imposed a 24-hour curfew.

The state-run National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the blasts happened in the Wusasa and Sabongari districts of Zaria, previously targeted by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

Residents in the areas surrounding the churches said several people were injured in the attacks on the Christ the King Catholic Cathedral and ECWA GoodNews Church.

''Many people in the church were injured but I have not seen any dead bodies,'' a woman who was in the church in Wusasa at the time of the explosion said by telephone from her hospital bed.

Several residents in Sabongari said the church was badly damaged by the blast.

''I went close to the church but could not access it due to heavy police and military security deployed around it,'' resident Mahmud Hamza told Agence France Presse.

''From where I stood I could see a badly destroyed church still burning from the explosion. It is obvious there were deaths from the scale of the damage and the fire,'' he added.

Another resident spoke of bodies being taken out.

Officials later said a third bomb attack targeted a church in Kaduna, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

NEMA officials said the third attack hit the Sharon Church in Kaduna city and that there were two other bombings in the Christian-dominated towns in the south of the state.

''There were two simultaneous bomb attacks on churches in Nassarawa and Barnawa in the south of Kaduna this morning. We are yet to get information on casualties,'' Kaduna spokesman for NEMA, Aliyu Mohammed, told Agence France Presse.

Southern Kaduna is some four kilometers (three miles) from Kaduna city and about two hours by car from Zaria.

Residents said the two other bomb blasts in the south of the state triggered street protests by Christian youths.

They said mobs barricaded roads in the towns of Trijania, Gonin Gora and Sabon Tasha, attacking motorists who looked Muslim.

A man said he had to scrap a trip to the national capital Abuja.

''I cancelled my trip to Abuja because of the huge number of rioters that have taken over the roads,'' he told AFP.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the latest in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, with many of the previous attacks also claimed by Boko Haram, whose insurgency has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009.

Source:Agence France Presse
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