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Emergency official: 5 killed, many injured in Easter car bombing in central Nigeria city
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) ' An emergency management official says five people were killed in a car bombing that struck a central Nigeria city.
Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press that many others were injured ' some critically ' in the bombing Sunday in the city of Kaduna.
Shuaib said that officials would travel to local hospitals to get a definitive figure later Sunday.
The bomb exploded Sunday morning as churchgoers in the city on the dividing line between Nigeria's largely Christian south and Muslim north attended Easter services.
Both the United Kingdom and the United States warned its citizens that violence was possible in Nigeria this weekend. A radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has been carrying out attacks across the country.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) ' A car bomb exploded Sunday in a city in central Nigeria that has seen hundreds die in religious and ethnic violence in recent years, killing an unknown number of people amid warnings by diplomats of possible terrorist attacks during the Easter holiday, officials said.
It was not immediately clear how many people died in the blast in Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state, though emergency officials found corpses around the wreckage of the car, local police spokesman Aminu Lawan said. The blast struck on a major roadway in the city near local eateries, a hotel and at least one church, witnesses said.
"It exploded and affected the people around there," Lawan said.
Security forces surrounded the site of the blast as residents fled in fear.
Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency, said it appeared many of the victims were motorcycle taximen who typically gathered there.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blast happened as the United Kingdom and the United States had warned its citizens living in the oil-rich nation that violence was likely over the Easter holiday. Nigeria's weak central government is under increasing attack from a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north, is waging an increasingly bloody fight with security agencies and the public. More than 380 people have been killed in violence blamed on the sect this year alone, according to an AP count.
The sect, employing suicide bombers and assault-rifle shootouts, has attacked both Christians and Muslims, as well as the United Nations' headquarters in Nigeria.
The sect has rejected efforts to begin indirect peace talks with Nigeria's government. Its demands include the introduction of strict Shariah law across the country, even in Christian areas, and the release of all imprisoned followers.
Kaduna, on Nigeria's dividing line between its largely Christian south and Muslim north, was at the heart of postelection violence in April 2011. Mobs armed with machetes and poison-tipped arrows took over streets of Kaduna and the state's rural countryside after election officials declared President Goodluck Jonathan the winner. Followers of his main opponent, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, quickly alleged the vote had been rigged, though observers largely declared the vote fair.
Across the nation, at least 800 people died in that rioting, Human Rights Watch said. In the time since, heavily armed soldiers remain on guard on roadways throughout Kaduna. In December, an explosion at an auto parts market in Kaduna killed at least seven people. Though authorities said it came from a leaking gas cylinder, the Nigerian Red Cross later said in an internal report the blast came from a bomb.
In February, bombs exploded at two major military bases near the city, injuring an unknown number of people.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap.