Blast Near Nigerian Church Kills Three
“After the church service, we were making preparation for another meeting when the blast went off…I couldn’t hear anything again and I was just seeing red. I had to run out with my wife and my child was crying.”
By Ola Awoniyi
07/10/2011 Nigeria (AFP)-An explosion near a church outside the Nigerian capital on Sunday killed at least three people, officials said, the latest of a spate of deadly blasts to hit Africa’s most populous nation.
The military meanwhile said it had killed 11 alleged members of an Islamist sect blamed for a series of attacks in a shootout in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Saturday night, but residents alleged soldiers shot civilians.
Sunday’s explosion outside the All Christian Fellowship Mission was in the town of Suleija, which was also the target of a deadly bomb attack at an electoral office on the eve of April’s parliamentary elections.
Police initially reported two people dead, but a Red Cross official later put the death toll at three, with seven critically wounded.
Church pastor Joseph Olowosagba said services had ended, but some members were still inside when the explosion went off outside of a window.
“We just ended service in the church and we were having a meeting,” he said at the scene.
“Then we heard the explosion and some of our people were affected. As of now, two of them are dead and one is still alive, but seriously injured.”
Windows on one side of the church were blown out, while a neighbouring house was also damaged.
“The explosion smashed my windows and scattered my room,” said Sani Joseph, who lives next to the church. “I saw two bodies — both of them women. The other man was seriously injured.”
One man said he, his wife and child fled from the church after the blast.
“After the church service, we were making preparation for another meeting when the blast went off,” Blessing Uwagbuwa said from his bed at a Suleija hospital, where he was being treated for hearing problems.
“I couldn’t hear anything again and I was just seeing red. I had to run out with my wife and my child was crying.”
A series of bomb blasts and other attacks occurred in the run-up to Nigeria’s parliamentary, presidential and state elections in April, and have continued afterward, intensifying in recent weeks.
Much of the violence has been claimed by an Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, which has mainly operated in the northeastern region of the country and has previously targeted churches in a nation roughly divided in half between Christians and Muslims.
But the motive of certain attacks has been unclear, and other parts of the country, Africa’s largest oil producer, have also been targeted.
Boko Haram — “Western education is sin” in the local Hausa language — staged an uprising in 2009 put down by a brutal military assault which destroyed its mosque and headquarters in Maiduguri. The assault left hundreds dead.
Over the past year, the group has been blamed for a series of hit-and-run attacks, as well as bomb blasts and bank robberies. The attacks have targeted politicians, police and soldiers, along with community and religious leaders.
The group’s membership and source of financing remain murky.