At least five people were killed Sunday when a suspected car bomb exploded in a predominantly Christian area in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. Islamist terror group Boko Haram is likely to be blamed.
The explosion took place at Gold Coast Street in the predominantly Christian district of Sabon Gari (foreign quarter), which is known for its bars and restaurants, in Kano City, Reuters reported.
"I heard a loud blast. And there was a lot of smoke. Soldiers came in to cordon off the place and ambulances were rushing people to hospital," a witness, Abdul Dafar, was quoted as saying. He said he saw at least four bodies lying at the scene.
"At about 22:00 (local time), we heard an explosion and immediately mobilized to the scene where we discovered a suicide bomber... Five people, including the bomber, were killed," BBC quoted Kano Police Commissioner Adelere Shinaba as saying.
Shinaba added that three men and a girl, about 12 years old, were killed, apart from the suspected bomber.
After the blast, police cordoned off the area and began searching for suspects.
Dozens were killed last March and July in a series of blasts in the Sabon Gari area.
While no group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's blast, it is likely to be blamed on Boko Haram, whose men kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last month.
The girls were abducted on the night of April 14-15 from the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok in eastern Borno State. It is not clear exactly how many girls were kidnapped, and how many remain captive. Reports suggest more than 300 had been abducted and about 276 are still with Boko Haram men.
The government of President Goodluck Jonathan has come under fire for not being able to deal with growing terrorist attacks in the country.
A Christian pastor, the Rev. Enoch Mark, whose two daughters were among those kidnapped, told The Associated Press earlier that the girls were camped near the Chibok town for 11 days. "For a good 11 days, our daughters were sitting in one place. They camped them near Chibok, not more than 30 kilometres, and no help in hand," he said, suggesting the military had a chance to rescue the girls but they missed it.
Boko Haram, which translates as "Western education is sin," has killed more than 1,500 civilians in three states in northeast Nigeria thus far this year.
The outfit, which is designated as a foreign terrorist organization in the United States and the European Union, was formed by an Islamic cleric, Mohammad Yusuf, about a decade ago to fight Western education, which he claimed was behind moral and political corruption in the country. Yusuf was from the Salafi movement, which has promoted jihadist terrorism in several countries.
Thousands of people have died in attacks since Boko Haram's insurrection began in 2009.
Boko Haram has killed numerous Christians and attacked several churches. It is apparently seeking to create an Islamic state in the Muslim-majority northern Nigeria. It is believed that it gained technical sophistication and weaponry with help from groups like al-Shabaab in southern Somalia and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali.