KANO, Nigeria — At least 41 people died in a suicide car bomb that struck a bus station in a Christian neighborhood in Kano, northern Nigeria's busiest commercial center, in the most deadly attack in nine months that is blamed on Islamic extremists, an official said Tuesday.

At least 44 others were injured in the attack that hit the city of Kano on Monday evening, a rescue official who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press. Kano state police said Tuesday that two men rammed an explosive-laden blue VW Golf into a full passenger bus in a mainly Christian enclave in the predominantly Muslim commercial center.

By striking at about 5 p.m. Monday, the bombers seemed to have targeted passengers preparing for the 15-hour overnight road trip to the megacity of Lagos in Nigeria's south, loved ones bidding them farewell and vendors selling drinks and snacks. The blast triggered panic and pandemonium in a city that has seen similar violence in the past.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion immediately fell on the radical Islamic network Boko Haram. Monday's attack came more than a year after the Jan. 20, 2012 coordinated Boko Haram attacks that left more than 150 people dead in Kano.

On Tuesday morning, a policewoman was killed in a drive-by shooting as she stopped to replace a flat tire, Kano police said. Hours later, three soldiers were killed as a suicide bomber rammed a military van.