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Another church bombed, sending tremors along Nigeria's religious dividing line

A suicide bomber rammed an SUV loaded with explosives into a Catholic church holding Mass on Sunday in northern Nigeria, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 100 others.

By Godwin Attah and Jon GambrellAssociated Press / October 28, 2012

St. Rita's Catholic Church in Kaduna, Nigeria, was the target of a suicide bombing on Sunday that further inflamed sectarian tension in the African nation.

Reuters

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Kaduna, Nigeria

A suicide bomber rammed an SUV loaded with explosives into a Catholic church holding Mass on Sunday in northern Nigeria, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 100 others in an attack that sparked reprisal killings in the city, authorities and witnesses said.

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As rescuers tried to reach the wounded in the Malali neighborhood of Kaduna, angry youths armed with machetes and clubs beat to death two Muslims passing by the still-smoldering ruins of St. Rita's Catholic church. An Associated Press reporter saw the men's corpses outside the worship hall, as police and soldiers ordered those in the neighborhood of Christians and Muslims to go home before more violence broke out.

The car bombing, the latest high-casualty attack targeting churches, comes as people fear more reprisal killings and religious violence could follow in this city and elsewhere along Nigeria's uneasy religious fault line separating its largely Christian south from its predominantly Muslim north.

The attack happened around 9 a.m. as the reverend of the parish conducted Sunday worship. Witnesses said the suicide bomber plowed his SUV past a gate and a security guard before ramming into the church's wall and detonating the explosives hidden inside the vehicle. The blast left shattered glass and blood across the floors of the church's sanctuary. One of the brown walls of the church caved in and bore scorch marks from the blast.

Rescuers found the bodies of seven worshipers and the suicide bomber after the attack, said Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency. Shuaib said more than 100 others suffered injuries in the blast and had been taken to local hospitals.

Kaduna state police commissioner Olufemi Adenaike told journalists at the church that authorities had urged those living in the religiously mixed neighborhood to return home and stay indoors to halt any further revenge attacks. Saidu Adamu, a spokesman for Kaduna state government, said the rest of the city was peaceful.

Reuben Abati, a spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, said the nation's leader condemned the attack.

"The persistence of messengers of evil will not prevail over the will of the government and the people to secure peace and safety," Abati said.

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