Nigeria: Dozens dead in church bombings and rioting

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At least 36 people have been killed in multiple blasts at at least three churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, and in subsequent reprisals.

Officials said at least 16 people died and dozens were injured in the blasts.

Some 20 more people were killed in later rioting apparently targeting Muslims, aid workers and witnesses said.

Kaduna state authorities have imposed a 24-hour curfew as soldiers and police try to restore order.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Kaduna state has previously seen attacks by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

Last week the group attacked two church services, sparking violence which killed seven people. Hundreds have died in its previous attacks on churches.

Revenge attacks

Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said two of the blasts happened in the Wusasa and Sabon-Gari districts of Zaria.

Wusasa is the site of the first church to be built in northern Nigeria.

A third blast reportedly hit the nearby city of Kaduna, the state capital.

Unconfirmed reports from AFP news agency say explosions have hit two further churches in the state, south of Kaduna city, bringing the total number of attacks to five.

Red Cross officials told the agency that more than 20 bodies had been recovered after rioting, most "burned beyond recognition", and witnesses reported that Christian youths at a roadblock south of Kaduna were pulling Muslims out of cars and killing them.

Boko Haram has previously justified attacks on churches by saying they were carried out in revenge for killings of Muslims in central Nigeria during earlier bouts of violence.

Recently, hardly a Sunday has gone by without reports of churches being attacked in Nigeria, the BBC's Will Ross reports from Lagos.

Boko Haram says it wants Islamic sharia law in place across Nigeria and analysts suggest it is trying to trigger clashes between Christians and Muslims, our correspondent says.

Last weekend an archbishop in central Nigeria appealed to Christians not to retaliate when churches were attacked, he adds.

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