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Car bomb near Nigeria church kills 38

By Jon Gambrell

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, April 8 2012 11:20 a.m. MDT

Abati did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. In his Easter speech at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the ongoing violence in Nigeria. Catholic churches have been targeted in previous attacks.

"To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of its citizens," he said.

Britain's Africa Minister Henry Bellingham condemned the attack, calling it a "horrific act."

Kaduna, on Nigeria's dividing line between its largely Christian south and Muslim north, was at the heart of postelection violence in April 2011. Mobs armed with machetes and poison-tipped arrows took over streets of Kaduna and the state's rural countryside after election officials declared President Goodluck Jonathan the winner. Followers of his main opponent, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, quickly alleged the vote had been rigged, though observers largely declared the vote fair.

Across the nation, at least 800 people died in that rioting, Human Rights Watch said. In the time since, heavily armed soldiers remain on guard on roadways throughout Kaduna. In December, an explosion at an auto parts market in Kaduna killed at least seven people. Though authorities said it came from a leaking gas cylinder, the Nigerian Red Cross later said in an internal report the blast came from a bomb.

In February, bombs exploded at two major military bases near the city, injuring an unknown number of people.

An Associated Press writer in Kaduna, Nigeria, and AP writer Frances D'Emilio in Vatican City contributed to this report.

Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap.

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