Nigerian bishop credits security forces for diminishing bombing's toll

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LAGOS, Nigeria - A Nigerian archbishop credited security forces for preventing a catastrophe at a Christian church on Easter when a suicide bomber was turned away and ended up detonating a car bomb on a busy street in the northern city of Kaduna.

Archbishop Mathew Ndagoso of Kaduna said that while the blast claimed dozens of lives, the death toll would have been much higher had the bomber been able to enter the grounds of the Evangelical Church of West Africa, where Easter services were being held.

Authorities said many of the 39 people who died were motorcycle taxi operators. More than 30 people were injured, police said.

Debris from the blast was strewn across a major road in the city. The Evangelical Church of West Africa and the All Nations Christian Assembly Church sustained serious damage from the blast but reported no injuries. Nearby hotels and homes had their windows blown out and roofs torn off by the force of the explosion.

Archbishop Ndagoso said the blast did not affect any of the Catholic parishes in Kaduna.

No organization had claimed responsibility for the bombing by late April 10, although the city has been at the center of long-standing violence rooted in religious, ethnic and political differences.

The archbishop commended the National Emergency Management Agency for its quick response at the bombing scene.

He also urged the public to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity to authorities.

"These evildoers are not ghosts and not spirits but human beings that live among the members of the public, so there should be cooperation between the public and the security agencies to nip in the bud the activities of the suicide bombers," he said.

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria, urged Christians, Muslims and people practicing traditional religions to pursue peace in the spirit of Easter.

"Christ came to the world to preach peace, love and justice, and that should be our watch word and not killing one another through bombs and indulging in other acts leading to wanton destruction of lives," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970