Bomb blast hits church in Nigeria's Jos, 3 dead

Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:14am EDT
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By Buhari Bello

JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - A suspected suicide attack hit a Catholic church in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, killing three people, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

A Reuters reporter on the scene was unable to gain access, as the police had cordoned off the area around the church.

Islamist sect Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a wave of bomb attacks on churches across Nigeria since Christmas Day. The bombing campaign has raised fears that the group is trying to ignite sectarian conflict in Africa's most populous country, which is split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

"NEMA officials are on the scene of a suspected suicide explosion at Finber's Catholic Church, Rayfield, Jos. They are about to evacuate victims to hospital," NEMA spokesman Yushau Shuaib said.

A Reuters witness watched angry Christians set up road blocks near the church. In the past, such a move has preceded retaliatory violence against Muslims.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," wants Sharia law more widely applied across Nigeria.

The sect has been waging an insurgency against Nigeria's government since 2009, and has been blamed for hundreds of killings in gun and bomb attacks.

Styled on the Taliban, its methods have become more sophisticated in the past six months, and it has widened its targets beyond the police and other authority figures to include ordinary Christian civilians.   Continued...