A suicide bomber in Nigeria drove a vehicle full of explosives into a Catholic church on Sunday, killing at least eight people and wounding more than 100, according to officials.
The bomber, suspected to be part of terrorist group Boko Haram, drove a Jeep into the crowded St. Rita’s church in Malali, Kaduna, which is a volatile ethnically and religiously mixed city in northern Nigeria, reports The Guardian.
A spokesman for NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) in Kaduna stated earlier on Sunday that five people had been confirmed dead and 98 people were being treated for wounds at two different local hospitals.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, officials believe it was likely Islamist sect Boko Haram, who has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past.
The group has attacked several churches in the past in an intensified campaign against Christians. One survivor, Linus Lighthouse, stated of the attack:
“The heavy explosion also damaged so many buildings around the area.”
Reuters notes that later in the day Yushua Shuaib, a spokesman for NEMA, stated that eight people were confirmed dead with more than 100 injured.
One wall of the church was blasted open, scorched black by the explosion. Following the explosion, angry Christian youths took to the streets with sticks and knives. One youth shouted, “We killed them and we’ll do more.” Two bodies were seen lying in the streets in pools of blood.
Many residents in the area fled indoors after the attack, reading a rise in the sectarian violence that often plagues the city. A previous church bombing in June caused a week of violence that killed more than 90 people.