– Feb 19 (Reuters) – An explosion struck the Nigerian town of Suleja, on the edge of the capital Abuja, on Sunday, a security source and a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.
“NEMA has alerted other response agencies to an explosion reported in Morocco area of Suleja. Public are strongly advised to desist from getting close to explosion and allow rescue workers access to site,” the spokesman said in a text message. He added that the casualty toll was not yet known.
The security source said the blast struck near the Christ Embassy Church, on the main Morocco Road, but officials did not immediately confirm this.
Nigerian officials say Suleja and surrounding Niger state have been infiltrated by militants from the Boko Haram Islamist sect which is waging an insurgency against the Nigerian government, usually concentrated in the largely Muslim far north and northeast.
Since last year, the group has radiated from its northern heartlands and struck in or around the capital a few times.
On Christmas Day, a bomb blast claimed by Boko Haram against a Catholic Church in Madala, just outside Abuja, killed 37 people and wounded 57.
That attack heightened sectarian tensions in the country of 160 million, split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.
On Wednesday, gunmen stormed a prison in Kogi state in central Nigeria, killing one warden and freeing 119 prisoners, the prison authorities said.
Although the majority of Boko Haram’s attacks occur in its home base in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, its threat has spread. At least 178 people were killed in the sect’s most deadly attack last month in Nigeria’s largest northern city, Kano.
(Reporting by Tim Cocks, Editing by Mark Trevelyan). REUTERS.