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Suicide car bombing kills 38 in Nigeria on Easter Sunday

Authorities believe the attacker was trying to detonate explosives near churches holding Easter services on Sunday.

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A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives Sunday morning on a busy road after apparently turning away from attacking Nigerian churches holding Easter services, killing at least 38 people in a massive blast that rattled a city long at the center of religious, ethnic and political violence in the nation.

The blast struck Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state, leaving charred motorcycles and debris strewn across a major road in the city where many gather to eat at informal restaurants and buy black market gasoline. Nearby hotels and homes had their windows blown out and roofs torn away by the force of the powerful explosion, which engulfed a group of motorcycle taximen.

The explosion damaged the nearby All Nations Christian Assembly Church and the ECWA Good News Church as churchgoers worshipped at an Easter service, the possible target of the bomber. Witnesses said it appeared the explosive-laden car attempted to go into the compound of the churches before it detonated, but was blocked by barriers in the street and was turned away by a security guard as police approached.

"We were in the holy communion service and I was exhorting my people and all of a sudden, we heard a loud noise that shattered all our windows and doors, destroyed our fans and some of our equipment in the church," Pastor Joshua Raji said.

While no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, suspicion immediately fell on a radical Islamist sect blamed for hundreds of killings in the oil-rich nation this year alone. And some fear the attack could further inflame tensions around Kaduna, a region on the dividing line between Nigeria's largely Christian south and Muslim north.

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