Published: 10:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 12 April 2012
Two Nigerian churches hit in Easter bomb blast; 38 people killed
Country/Region: Nigeria, Africa
At least 38 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside two churches during Easter services in Northern Nigeria.
The Church in Northern Nigeria is facing relentless attacks
Explosives were detonated in Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state, on Sunday (8 April) at around 8.40am. The All Nations Christian Assembly Church and the ECWA Good News Church were damaged in the blast. Nearby hotels and homes had their windows blown out and roofs torn away. Most of the victims were motorcycle taxi drivers who were caught up in the blast.
The bomber appeared to have been targeting the churches but was stopped at a checkpoint as he attempted to drive his vehicle into the compound. A police officer said that the man turned back and drove to a nearby area, where he detonated the bomb. Another vehicle packed with explosives also detonated.
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which has been carrying out violent acts against Christians and other targets in its campaign to create an Islamic state.
Churches have been particularly vulnerable during the key Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a coordinated series of bomb and gun attacks on churches and the security services in five states on Christmas Day 2011. The majority of the fatalities occurred at a church in Madalla, near the capital, Abuja, where around 35 worshippers were killed.
The group shortly afterwards issued a three-day ultimatum for Christians to leave the North and has since been carrying out attacks on churches and individual Christians. Last month, Boko Haram declared "war" on Christians in Nigeria, saying that they were planning coordinated attacks to "eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country".
Both the UK and the US had warned its citizens living in Nigeria that violence was likely over Easter.
Kaduna, which is on the dividing line between Nigeria's predominantly Muslim North and mainly Christian South, was one of the worst affected states when violence broke out last April following the re-election of Christian President Goodluck Jonathan. It has since remained under tight armed guard.
The Nigerian authorities have been struggling to get to grips with Boko Haram and have appeared unable to stop their attacks.
In his Easter message, President Jonathan said that "as people of faith, we must never succumb to hopelessness and despair".
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