11th March, 2012
Updated Report on Latest Suicide Bombing
A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Catholic church in the Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, killing seven other people attending mass, it has been confirmed.
The state government raised the death toll to 11, including three men shot as security forces fired on a crowd of onlookers who gathered after the blast.
State government spokesman Pam Ayuba told AFP, adding that “there were 10 dead, seven parishioners and three that were shot dead by soldiers.” The 11 person was the bomber himself.
The suicide bomber drove his car towards the church setting off a large explosion, killing himself and at least three churchgoers, emergency agency spokesman Yushau Shuaib told AFP. The toll is now confirmed higher, by a government official.
“Three confirmed dead,” said Shuaib, adding that several others were in a critical condition.
It was the second suicide bomb attack on a church in the flashpoint city in two weeks, after a February 26 attack killed three people, including a toddler, as they attended a Sunday service.
Responsibility for that attack was claimed by Islamist extremist sect Boko Haram, which warned of more such assaults.
Shuaib said earlier that three people had been injured in the latest attack and only the bomber had been killed.
“The bomb exploded before he could get to the church,” he said.
“NEMA officials and other response agencies are mopping the venue of today’s explosion in Jos and moving victims to hospitals,” he said.
Mark Lipdo, who runs a Jos-based Christian Stefanos Foundation, told AFP at least eight people had been killed, including three shot by soldiers after the explosion.
He said the soldiers had opened fire to disperse a crowd of onlookers who gathered outside the church.
“They shot at people who gathered at the scene, killing three instantly,” he said.
Lipdo said three women, one of whom was pregnant, were among the dead.
“It was a horrible sight. The bodies of the victims were mutilated but five of them have been identified by their relations,” he said.
The worst recent attack on a Catholic church came on December 25 last year, when 44 people were killed during a mass to celebrate Christmas in Madalla, a town outside the capital Abuja.
Jos lies in the so-called middle belt region dividing the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, and hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups in recent years.
Violence blamed on Boko Haram, whose goals remain largely unclear, has since 2009 claimed more than 1,000 lives, including more than 300 this year, according to figures tallied by AFP and rights groups.