Witnesses said a suicide bomber drove his car into the prominent Church of Christ during morning prayers. The radical Islamist sect Boko Haram later said that it carried out the attack. The bombing sparked a riot by Christian youths, with reports that at least two Muslims were killed in the violence.
The two men were dragged off their bikes after being stopped at a roadblock set up by the rioters, police said. A row of Muslim-owned shops was also burned, an AFP reporter at the scene said. President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the violence and appealed for calm. "Those who seek to divide us by fear and terror will not succeed," he said in a statement. "The indiscriminate bombing of Christians and Muslims is a threat to all peace-loving Nigerians."
Earlier, the suicide bomber smashed his car through unmanned gates towards the packed church, killing a woman in the process, witnesses said. The explosives detonated close to where members of the congregation were attending a Sunday service, killing a father and his child. "The bomber drove at top speed, and there was a loud explosion and everything was black," said churchgoer Ezekiel Gomos. At least 38 people had to be taken to hospital for treatment, the National Emergency Management Agency said.
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A Boko Haram spokesman has stated the groups’ aim was "to avenge the killings and dehumanization of Muslims in Jos in the past 10 years", AFP news agency quoted him as saying.
The group has carried out a number of bloody attacks across Nigeria in its quest to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.
Boko Haram attacked churches across the country on Christmas Day 2011, killing nearly 40 people at one church outside the capital, Abuja, alone.