JOS, Nigeria (AP) — A suicide car bomber attacked a Catholic church Sunday in the middle of Mass, killing at least 10 people in the latest violence targeting a church in this central Nigerian city plagued by unrest, a state official said.
The bomb detonated as worshippers attended the final Mass of the day at St. Finbar’s Catholic Church in Jos, a city in which thousands have died in the plast decade in religious and ethnic violence. Security at the gate of the church compound stopped the suspicious car and the bomber detonated his explosives during an altercation that followed, Plateau state spokesman Pam Ayuba said.
The blast damaged the church’s roof, blew out its windows and destroyed a portion of the fence surrounding the church compound, Mr. Ayuba said. At least 10 people died, he said, while many others were wounded in the blast, including soldiers who were stationed at the church.
“He destroyed so many things,” the spokesman said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, though the city has been targeted in the past by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram. The sect claimed a series of bombings in Jos on Christmas Eve in 2010 that killed as many as 80 people. The sect also claimed a similar church bombing on Feb. 26 on the main headquarters of the Church of Christ that killed three people and wounded 38 others.
The sect, which speaks to journalists through telephone conference calls at times of its choosing, could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday.
Jos and the surrounding Plateau state have been torn apart in recent years by violence pitting its different ethnic groups and major religions — Christianity and Islam — against each other. Human Rights Watch says at least 1,000 people were killed in communal clashes around Jos in 2010.
The violence, though fractured across religious lines, often has more to do with local politics, economics and rights to grazing lands. Muslims in the city also say they are locked out of lucrative jobs in the region as the Christian-led state government doesn’t recognize them as citizens.
The attack on the Catholic church also comes after a failed raid Thursday by British and Nigerian commandos left a Briton and an Italian hostage dead in Nigeria‘s far northwest. British officials have blamed a splinter cell of Boko Haram for the attack, something a spokesman for the group has denied.
However, the attack has opened a new front on Nigeria‘s ongoing struggle with terrorism, showing any region across the nation’s Muslim north can be attacked — and anyone, including foreigners, could be targeted.
Jon Gambrell reported from Kano, Nigeria.
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
“Right Angles” explores serious subjects, such as the Islamization of the Middle East and delegitimization of Israel, with humor, candor and a twist.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Weekly agitation from a columnist who many believed to be one of the least likely to become known as a Conservative Republican.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention