A suicide bomber in Nigeria blew himself up just outside the St. John’s Catholic Church in Bauchi on Sunday, killing five people while injuring 46 others.
The blast occurred just opposite Tafawa Balewa Stadium a little before 9 a.m. local time as worshippers from the first church service were leaving to make way for those attending the following one, said police spokesman Hassan Mohammed Auyo.
“When a suicide bomber attempted to gain entrance into the premises of the church, he could not because of the barricade of the church.
“The suicide bomber then decided to detonate the bomb in the parking lot, killing himself and three others, while several others sustained injuries,” he continued. “The injured victims were taken to the hospital for treatment. A boy between the ages of six and eight died while receiving treatment.”
Two other policemen deployed to protect the church also sustained injuries.
The suicide bomber drove an Opel saloon car, detonating his deadly explosive device after slamming into the barricade and finding himself unable to get any closer.
A worshipper, Osondu Chukwu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the number of casualties would have been more extensive had the barricade not been there to allow the bomber closer.
“The sound was massive, and you can imagine if he had succeeded in getting to the hall where service was taking place,” he said.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, condemned the suicide attack as “ignoble, wicked and horrendous” and urged security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of the violent act were brought to justice.
Tambuwal said the gains recorded by the security agencies in their battle against terror in the country in recent weeks should be built upon in order to protect the citizens at all times.
Tambuwal urged his countrymen to help provide any useful information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators and their sponsors.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, although Islamist sect Boko Haram has claimed several previous attacks on churches and other Christian gatherings this year as part of wider efforts to destabilise President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.
Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people since 2009 in attacks on security forces, government offices and churches, and three of its senior members have been designated as ‘terrorists’ by the United States.
The sect, which says it wants to revive an ancient Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria that would practice strict Sharia law, has become the number one security threat to Africa’s top oil producer, replacing militancy in the oil-rich southeast.