News / Africa

Suicide Attack on Nigerian Church Raises Fears of Sectarian Violence

A view of St. Rita's Catholic church in Kaduna, Nigeria, after a bomb attack October 28, 2012.
A view of St. Rita's Catholic church in Kaduna, Nigeria, after a bomb attack October 28, 2012.
Heather Murdock
Nigerian authorities say eight people were killed and 100 more injured when a suicide bomber attacked a Catholic church during morning services, raising fears of renewed sectarian violence in the volatile city of Kaduna.

About 20 minutes after the bombing a woman weeps outside the partially destroyed church.

“I am feeling bad already,” she said.
 
While police try to clear the area, she says she lost brothers and sisters in the morning attack.  
 
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Yushau Shuaib said a suicide bomber rammed his car into the barriers surrounding the church.
 
The rescue operation was initially delayed, he added, as angry residents attacked emergency vehicles and fights were reported between Christians and Muslims. He said the city is now calm and heavily secured.

A VOA reporter at the scene said after the attack Christian and Muslim youth took to the streets in the surrounding area, guarding their neighborhoods. He says now residents are mostly at home, scared.    

Boko Haram Facts

  • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
  • Began in 2002 as a non-violent Islamist splinter group
  • Launched uprising in 2009; leader was subsequently killed in police custody
  • Has killed hundreds in bombings and shootings since 2010
  • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
  • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
  • Says it will kidnap women and children as part of its campaign
  • Has taken over parts of northeastern Nigeria
The chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Youth Christian Association of Nigeria, Diji Haruna, says he was two kilometers away when the bomb exploded. He rushed to the scene where he saw three other buildings damaged by the force of the blast.  
 
Haruna says the attack also damaged efforts to end sectarian violence in Kaduna, a city in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt,” that is divided like the rest of the country, with mostly Muslims in the north and mostly Christians in the south. 
“What happened in the church today is amazing, after all the efforts to see how Kaduna can live in peace,"  he said. "As far as we are concerned this is a terrible situation.  This is a step 10-times backwards for Kaduna State.”
 
Human Rights Watch says sectarian violence has claimed thousands of lives in Nigeria in the past decade.  After a Kaduna church bombing in June, nearly 100 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians.
 
No one has claimed responsibility for the latest bombing, but it is similar to others attributed to an Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram, which says it wants jailed members freed and the implementation of Islamic law.
 
Boko Haram has been blamed for 1,400 deaths in the past three years.  The group claims attacks on churches, security forces, government buildings, schools, communications networks, newspapers, and the local U.N. headquarters. 

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid