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Emergency official: At least 10 killed in explosion at Catholic church near Nigeria's capital
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) ' An emergency official says at least 10 people are dead in an explosion that ripped through a Catholic church during Christmas Mass near Nigeria's capital.
Yushau Shuaib of Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency says it's likely more people died in the blast Sunday at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a town in Niger state close to the capital, Abuja.
Authorities have yet to say what caused the blast. However, it comes amid a wave of sectarian attacks carried out by a radical Muslim sect known as Boko Haram.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) ' An explosion ripped through a Catholic church during Christmas Mass near Nigeria's capital Sunday, killing and wounding an unknown number of worshippers amid a wave of sectarian attacks targeting Africa's most populous nation.
Local police spokesman Richard Oguche said the blast struck St. Theresa Church in Madalla, a town in Niger state close to the capital, Abuja. Oguche said he had no other details and was driving to the scene of the explosion.
It was not immediately known what had caused the explosion or how many people were wounded or killed, though authorities acknowledged they had begun collecting corpses at the scene. Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency also told journalists it did not immediately have enough ambulances to begin ferrying the wounded to hospitals.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but the explosion comes amid a wave of attacks in Nigeria by a radical Muslim sect known as Boko Haram. The sect is responsible for at least 465 killings this year alone, according to an Associated Press count.
Last year, a series of Christmas Eve bombings in the central Nigerian city of Jos claimed by Boko Haram killed at least 32 people and wounded at least 74 others.
With those attacks in mind, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria's capital of Abuja had issued a warning Friday to citizens to be "particularly vigilant" around churches, large crowds and areas where foreigners congregate.
Several days of fighting in the northeast between the sect and security forces killed at least 61 people, authorities have said.
In the last year, the sect has carried out increasingly bloody attacks in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law across Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people with a largely Christian south and a Muslim north.
Jon Gambrell reported from Lagos, Nigeria and can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.