ABUJA, NIGERIA (Worthy News)-- Suspected Islamic militants attacked three churches in northern Nigeria Sunday, June 17, killing dozens of people and injuring over 100 others an evangelist and Worthy News reporter said, citing officials.
Paul Jongas, who ia an Christian evangelist and also reports from the region, said blasts were heard in the city of Zaria, where two were killed.
He said the National Emergency Management Agency confirmed to reporters that 20 people "lost their lives and over 100 were recieving intensive treatment in different hospitals in Kaduna and Zaria."
Other news reports later said as many as 44 people may have died.
The series of attacks began when a suicide bomber drove at high speed through a barricade at the EWCA Goodnews Wusasa Zaria church around early Sunday, the Cable News Network (CNN) quoted congregation member Lucy Bello as saying.
BLAST KILLS DOZENS
That blast left at least 24 people dead and 125 injured, some in critical condition, officials said. Bello, who had bruises from the explosion, said the dead and wounded were thrown to the ground by the blast.
Within minutes, another explosion occurred at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Zaria, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
At least 10 people were killed in that attack and more than 50 were injured, the state agency said.
Some 10 other people were reportedly killed in a bombing at a church in the city of Kaduna, Red Cross spokesman Andronicus Adeyemo explained.
There was no immediately claim of responsibility, but Christians have little doubt that the Boko Haram, or 'Western Education is a Sin' was behind the attacks. Boko Haram has made clear it wants Chrisians to leave northern Nigeria and set up a state based on Shariah, or Islamic law.
The group has been linked to killing close to 600 people this year alone.
Churches have been increasingly targeted by violence in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people. An Easter Day blast in Kaduna left at least 38 people dead. A Christmas Day suicide bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla near Nigeria's capital killed at least 44 people.
Sunday's blasts came after Boko Haram claimed responsibility for bombing a church and spraying another congregation with bullets in Nigeria's troubled northern and central region, killing at least seven people, including a suicide bomber, and injuring over 40 others.
There were reports Sunday that the latest attacks prompted protests by youngsters, raising fears of more sectarian clashes in the troubled area.
Churches have been increasingly targeted by violence in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people. Earlier this year, an Easter Day blast in Kaduna left at least 38 people dead. A Christmas Day suicide bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla near Nigeria's capital killed at least 44 people.
MIXED DIVIDING LINE
Kaduna state, which sits on Nigeria's dividing line between its largely Christian south and Muslim north, was reportedly at the heart of postelection violence in April 2011.
Mobs armed with machetes and poison-tipped arrows took over streets of Kaduna and the state's rural countryside after election officials declared President Goodluck Jonathan the winner, The Associated Press news agency reported.
Followers of his main opponent, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, quickly alleged the vote had been rigged, though observers largely declared the vote fair.
Human Rights Watch has said at least 800 were killed in the postelection violence. Of these, at least 680 people died in Kaduna State alone.