At least 53 people were killed in a series of explosions that targeted churches around the Nigerian cities of Zaria and Kaduna, Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress, whose organization is helping in rescue operations, said.
“The figure represents bodies counted by our members and reports from people near where the blasts occurred,” Sani said today. “We need figures from the hospitals to ascertain the total number of victims.”
The Kaduna State government imposed a 24-hour curfew following the attacks, Reuben Buhari, a spokesman for the governor, said by phone.
Three blasts occurred in Zaria’s Wusasa and Sabon-Gari districts and in Kaduna, Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, said by telephone. The Kaduna state police confirmed two of the attacks.
“Two suicide bombers attacked two different churches in Zaria this morning and many were killed and injured,” police spokesman Aminu Lawan said by phone. He could not give exact casualty numbers.
While no one has claimed responsibility, Nigerian authorities have blamed a group called Boko Haram for previous attacks in the mainly Muslim north and the capital Abuja that have killed hundreds of people this year. Boko Haram is a movement seeking to impose strict Islamic law in the country.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s biggest oil producer, is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.