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Suicide Bomber Strikes Nigerian Church

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Nigerian authorities say a suicide bomber has killed two people and wounded more than 45 at a Catholic church in the northern city of Bauchi.

Twenty minutes after the blast, rescue workers transport injured worshipers to the hospital while women weep outside the church.

Handbags and ladies' shoes are strewn around the grounds, abandoned as parishioners fled. The suicide bomber’s burnt-out sedan near the cement walls surrounding the church is cut in half.

This woman says some worshipers at Saint John’s Catholic Church were leaving one service while others were arriving for the next service when the suicide bomber was stopped outside the gates.

​​“I was very close to the gate and stopped to say hello to some people when this big bomb went off," she said. "And after that we heard others. I do not know how far. We have lost friends. It is just terrible."

Bauchi State Deputy Police Commissioner Steven Opitoju says the bomber was killed, along with an unidentified woman and a boy under 10 years old.

“They attempted to go into the church when the service was going on," he said. "Fortunately the barrier created and the security men prevented them from gaining church access into the church premises.”

At the hospital, there are not enough beds for the more than 45 injured.

Many victims are on the floor, some sitting in pools of their own blood. Red Cross workers and medics move from person to person.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram has conducted similar attacks, bombing churches in several parts of the country.

Boko Haram has been blamed for 1,400 deaths since it began violent operations in 2009. Besides churches, the group has targeted security forces, government offices, the media and the local U.N. headquarters.

Boko Haram

Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
Began in 2002 as a non-violent Islamist splinter group
Launched uprising in 2009; leader was subsequently killed in police custody
Has killed hundreds in bombings and shootings since 2010
Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
Some politicians, criminals believed to be acting under Boko Haram guise

Article by Heather Murdock, VOA News