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8 killed in Nigerian church blast, clashes

From Hassan John, For CNN
June 11, 2012 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Gunmen burst into a church, spraying it with bullets, an activist says
  • A blast occurs during Sunday services, killing at least 5
  • Three die in clashes with police near the church
  • An angry crowd drives away security officers and sets up checkpoints

Jos, Nigeria (CNN) -- Three people died in clashes Sunday with police in Jos, Nigeria, hours after a car bomb killed five people during services at a church nearby.

Angry crowds wielding makeshift clubs fought with police after chasing away security forces from the destroyed church. A man dragged part of a charred corpse through the street.

The clashes broke out after witnesses said a suicide car bomber drove toward several churches in the area before plowing into the Christ Chosen Church of God. The attack injured at least 48 people, hospital officials said.

Bruised and bloodied parishioners emerged from the rubble after the blast, which left splintered wood beams and twisted metal where the church once stood. There appeared to be a large number of casualties, including children.

Aftermath of Nigeria church car bombing
8 killed in Nigerian blast, clashes
5 killed in Nigerian church blast

Young people set up roadblocks after the blast, questioning how the suicide bomber made it past government security checkpoints and into the area.

About 230 miles away, a group of gunmen burst into a church in northern Nigeria Sunday and opened fire, according to Mark Lipdo, a Christian activist and program coordinator for the Stefanos Foundation.

Lipdo, who tracks church violence in Nigeria, said a witness told him gunmen sprayed bullets throughout the Church of the Brethren chapel in Biu, Nigeria. Several people were wounded, Lipdo said. It was not clear whether there were any fatalities, or whether the two incidents were related.

The attacks come a week after two church bombings in northern Nigeria killed at least 15 people and wounded 38 others.

In March, a car bomb outside a Catholic church in Jos killed six people, according to officials.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in several northern states in December following a series of Christmas Day attacks on churches.

It was not clear who was behind Sunday's bombing.

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out previous attacks in Nigeria, including at churches in the country.

CNN's Brian Walker contributed to this report.

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