15 killed in Nigeria church bombing


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The Independent Online

At least 15 people have been killed and dozens more were injured after a suicide bomber drove a car into a church compound in northern Nigeria before detonating explosives.

The bomber targeted worshippers leaving a morning service at the Living Faith church, in a neighbourhood near the airport in Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state.

The blast caught many people outside the church without any cover to protect themselves, causing heavy casualties, witnesses said.

At least 15 people died in the blast, not counting the bomber, the Nigerian Red Cross said, while more than 30 people suffered injuries.

Bauchi state police commissioner Mohammed Ladan said security personnel stationed near the church compound stopped the car from getting any closer to worshippers than it did.

The blast from the car destroyed part of the church, bringing down the walls on worshippers still inside. Others suffered burns as a result of the explosion.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though the attack comes as Nigeria faces a growing wave of sectarian violence carried out by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north, has been blamed for killing an estimated 530 people this year alone. The sect's targets have included churches, often attacked by suicide car bombers.

Boko Haram could not be immediately reached for comment. The group has been largely quiet since claiming a suicide car bombing and another attack at offices of the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay on April 26 that killed at least seven people.

Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, is split between a largely Muslim north and Christian south.