Abuja: A suicide car bomber struck a Catholic church conducting Mass in northern Nigeria's troubled Bauchi city Sunday, leaving at least three people dead, including a woman and a child, and 48 others injured in a region plagued by violence unleashed by a Islamist militant group.
The bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a queue of church members who were being screened to go in for Sunday Mass, Red Cross official Adamu Abubakar said.
The explosion killed the bomber, a woman and a child. About forty eight others were seriously injured in the blast, Abubaker said.
Eyewitnesses said the police cordoned off the premises of St John's Catholic Church as soon as the explosion occurred.
The church is the biggest in the city and shares fence with a soccer stadium in Wunti city-centre district.
Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the injured were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Bauchi's Commissioner of Police, T Stevens, said the bomber was prevented from entering the church at the gate by security men just as he decided to detonate the bomb.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the bombing but Bauchi is among the cities targeted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram which has vowed to install the tough 'Sharia' law in the country.
The militant group is against Western education and influence and has been carrying out its violent activities since 2009 when its leader Muhammed Yusuf was killed by the police.
Sunday attacks on churches in Nigeria, which had been taking place frequently earlier this year, had waned in recent months.
Since 2010, attacks in central and northern Nigeria blamed on Boko Haram have killed around 1,400 people.
Nigerian security forces had said recently that they had killed Boko Haram's spokesman Abu Qaqa in a gun battle.
However, the militant group had not confirmed his death.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with 150 million people and largest oil producer, is divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
First Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012, 17:45