Published: 10:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 07 June 2012
Car bomb outside churches kills 18 people in Northern Nigeria
Country/Region: Nigeria, Africa
A suicide car bomber killed at least 18 people and injured more than 40 others in an attack on two churches in Bauchi state, Northern Nigeria, on Sunday 3 June.
The attack took place in Yelwa Tudu, about seven miles from the state capital, at about 9.20am, just as worshippers were leaving after the first service of the day. Most of them were talking with each other and were caught off guard.
The bomber forced his car in among a group of Christians, trying to break through a security barricade and reach the church buildings. The bomb exploded as the car hit the barrier. An eye-witness, Grace Luka, said:
I was about to come out when I saw the car... Then suddenly, there was a loud explosion, followed by a ball of fire and smoke.
One of the pastors said:
We heard a blast that shook the entire church building. People started running helter-skelter for their lives. I managed to come out only to discover that it was a case of suicide bombing.
The casualties, some of them with severe burns, were taken to a hospital in the capital. One of the two church buildings on the site was badly damaged, and cars parked there were engulfed by the flames. The bomber was among those killed, along with a policeman and some of the churches' volunteer guards.
Security was tight at the scene. The day before the bombing, the authorities had learned that there would be multiple attacks on churches in and around the state capital. Security personnel were deployed at probable targets, including the compound in Yelwa, where they erected the barrier at the entrance.
But even these precautions failed to prevent further carnage among the vulnerable Christians of Northern Nigeria, who are being subjected to a relentless series of violent attacks. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which wants to establish an Islamic state in the Muslim-majority North, declared "war" on Christians in March and threatened to eradicate them from parts of the country. Since then a number of attacks on churches have left dozens dead. On Monday, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the Bauchi blast.
The pastor of one of the Yelwa churches, Mbaningo Godia, asked Christians not to retaliate in any way but to pray to God for peace.
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