Shooting, Bombing Kill Dozens in Northern Nigeria

Posted April 9th, 2012 at 6:40 am (UTC-5)
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Police in northeastern Nigeria say suspected members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram shot dead a 6-year-old girl and wounded two infants Sunday, after a suicide car bombing earlier in the day killed at least 36 people.

A Yobe state police spokesman told VOA the gunmen stormed the house of a police corporal in the town of Potiskum and shot three of his children. The spokesman said the officer narrowly escaped the attack.

The bombing happened earlier Easter Sunday in the city of Kaduna, where witnesses said security personnel prevented the attacker from reaching a group of several churches.

Saidu Adamu, Kaduna state's information commissioner, told VOA the explosion damaged several buildings on the city's main road and struck an area where motorcycle taxis do business. He said it appeared the bomb had detonated prematurely, and that despite the casualties, the attack could have been much worse.

“I want to believe that we are so lucky that possibly the person who was carrying the bomb could not reach his target, and the bomb's timer was against him.”

He noted that the city's streets are mostly empty on Sundays and said it was “lucky” the attack did not come on a work day.

A second blast hit later Sunday in the central city of Jos, wounding several people. The explosions came after foreign diplomats warned of possible attacks on one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar.

Four bombs killed 44 people in Nigeria on Christmas Day last year, including more than 30 at a Catholic church near the capital, Abuja.

Adamu said authorities stationed 30 to 50 security personnel at Kaduna churches Sunday, and that the measures were “highly effective.” He also said citizens play an important role in maintaining security.

“Without peace we can never have any municipal government, so I want to assure that Kaduna state government will continue to do its best, but I also want to call on people to understand that security is a business of all.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's attacks.

The radical Islamic group Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people this year in Nigeria and claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day bombings.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, is fighting to turn northern Nigeria into a strict Islamic state.