A car bomb exploded in the north Nigerian town of Kaduna on Easter Sunday, killing several people, after security officers stopped the driver from approaching a church, witnesses and emergency services said.
“A suicide bomber in a vehicle was moving towards the ECWA Church and the All Nations Christian Assembly,” said Tony Udo, a Kaduna resident.
“Security agents accosted and repelled him. While he was driving away, the bomb went off at Junction Road, near the Stadium roundabout, killing the bomber and some commercial motorcyclists,” Udo told Reuters.
“The blast from the bomb also shattered the windows of the church, some nearby houses and vehicles parked nearby. The area has been condoned off by security agents,” Udo added.
Nigeria has ramped up security across the largely Muslim north before the Christian Easter holiday because of fears of a repeat of attacks by the Islamist sect Boko Haram that killed dozens on Christmas Day last year.
One of the sect’s Christmas Day bomb attacks in the north killed at least 37 people and wounded more than 50 at a church.
Boko Haram, a movement loosely styled on Afghanistan’s Taliban, has killed hundreds this year in bomb and gun attacks that mostly target police, the military and the government.
The sect says it wants its imprisoned members released and sharia, Islamic law, applied throughout Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
In the remote northeast town of Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s homeland, the military outnumbered the public on some streets on Sunday.
“Patrol is being intensified to forestall any breakdown in law and order,” a spokesman for the joint military task force told Reuters.
In Nigeria’s second biggest city Kano, where coordinated attacks in January killed 186 people, authorities deployed trucks of soldiers and a helicopter to try to prevent violence.
“I will stay away from church because we have been told by our pastor to be careful. We are afraid, everybody is afraid because we don’t know when the next attack will come,” said Jenifer Paul, a housewife in Kano.