A suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a church inside the Jaji military barracks in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state on Sunday, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more, military sources said.
There was no claim of responsibility but Islamist sect Boko Haram, whose main targets are the security forces, has bombed several churches in the past in its fight to create an Islamic state in Nigeria where the 160 million population is evenly split between Christians and Muslims.
“I saw five bodies and scores injured,” a military officer who witnessed the bombing told Reuters, asking not to be named. A military spokesman and the national emergency agency confirmed there was a bomb at the church but gave no more details.
Two army officers said a car drove into the church before exploding with the driver inside at around 1145 GMT. One of the officers said the military barracks had been cordoned off and emergency workers were treating the wounded.
A suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded more than 100 last month at a church in another part of Kaduna state, which has a mixed Muslim and Christian population and often suffers from sectarian tensions.
Boko Haram’s purported spokesman Abu Qaqa, who used to confirm the sect’s attacks in phone calls to journalists, was killed by the military in September, the army said. Since then there has been little public communication by the group.
Nigeria’s army on Saturday offered 290 million naira (1.1 million pounds) for information leading to the capture of 19 leading members of Boko Haram, including 50 million naira for the sect’s self-proclaimed leader Abubakar Shekau.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed at least 2,800 people since an uprising in 2009, according to Human Rights Watch, and the group has become the largest security threat inside Africa’s biggest oil exporter.