By NBF News

Jos - At least 10 people died yesterday and about 24 injured in a bomb explosion which hit another church in Jos, the Plateau State capital and protests that trailed the blast.

Among the dead were a pregnant woman who was burnt beyond recognition and members of the church's Boy Scouts manning the gate. Two protesting young men were also shot dead by security men in the violence that followed the blast.

The blast went off at Saint Finbarr's Catholic Church located in Rayfield area of Jos not far from the Government House as three suicide bombers in a Volkswagen Vento car attempted to force their way into the church premises.

An eye witness said the blast went off at about 10.30 am just as the second service of the church got under way. The suicide bombers accompanied by another on motorbike detonated the bomb when it became obvious that they would not be allowed into the premises.

The impact of the blast which reverberated in many parts of the capital flung the car into the premises of the church, bringing down the church's gate house, the ceiling of the church and smashing the glass windows of the church.

About 25 cars parked within and outside the church premises were damaged while a building opposite the church was also damaged and part of its fence brought down by the impact of the explosion.

Dr Matawwal Bitrus, Medical Director, Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos, confirmed that the hospital had received the corpses of six victims. Another corpse was said to have been deposited at the morgue of Jos University Teaching Hospital.

The Chief Medical Director, Dr Ishaya Pam, said: 'We received 15 casualties from the attack. One of the victims died while 14 sustained various degrees of injuries and are in critical conditions.

'Some sustained varying degrees of burns while three had gunshot wounds. But they are in stable condition and responding to treatment.'

On its part, the Red Cross indicated that it had taken 22 people injured in the blast to various hospitals in Jos metropolis.

'For now, we have 22 injured at Jos University Teaching Hospital, Plateau Specialist Hospital and Air Force Military Hospital in Jos.

Smoke billows from the protest that followed yesterday's bomb attack at St Finbarr's Parish Rayfield, a Catholic church in Jos. Photo: AFP

'Many of the injured are in critical conditions but they are stable and responding to treatment.  But we also note that some of the injured were taken to different hospitals in the metropolis by different people.

'For those ones that were taken to these hospitals by several people mostly, relatives, we are not able to know their actual numbers for now,' Mr Manasseh Pampe, State Chairman  of the Red Cross said.

The blast came exactly two weeks after a similar blast at COCIN Headquarters Compound Church generated angry reactions from youths who took to the streets and carried out reprisal attacks of perceived enemies. At least four lives were reportedly lost in the violence.

The angry youths took over the highway in front of the church raining abuses on security men who they accused of serving no useful purpose since the bombers always pass through their check points undiscovered.

'What is their use if they would subject innocent citizens to inconveniences in the name of checking, yet they don't discover those who carry explosives to bomb churches', one of the angry youths asked Vanguard.

Former Vice Chancellor of Plateau State University, Professor John Wade who was in the church during the blast said the casualty figure would have been higher had the attackers succeeded in driving into the church.

He said the tight security at the church was what saved the day. The Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Rt. Rev. Ignatius Kaigama who visited the church described the bombing of churches as evil but said this would not deter Christians from practising their faith.

'This is a practical demonstration of evil; this is diabolical. People want to rob us of our faith. These armed robbers of evil will not succeed in Jesus name. It is a terrible evil, but good will overcome evil.

'Evil has taken place but evil shall not triumph. If anyone thinks that by doing this we will give up our faith, they are mistaken. Our faith will continue to grow' he said.

Archbishop Kaigama who had a hectic time pacifying angry church members urged them not to take the laws into their hands despite the provocation but should instead, continue to combine faith with reason.

President Jonathan condemns bomb attack
Meanwhile, President Jonathan has urged Nigerians not to despair over the bomb attack as government is winning the war on terrorism.

In a statement issued in Abuja by the president's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, he quoted the president as condemning the attack while conveying his 'heartfelt commiserations to the families of the victims of the bomb attack'.

Part of the statement reads.  'President Jonathan reiterates his Administration's total condemnation of  this and all other terrorist attacks on innocent Nigerians and reassures all Nigerians and friends of the country that the Federal Government is doing everything possible to end the spate of mindless attacks and killings in parts of the country.

'The President urges Nigerians not to despair or be discouraged by the persistence of the attacks in spite of government's efforts to deal decisively with the menace of terrorism within the country's borders because despite seeming appearances to the contrary, government is indeed winning the war against the terrorists and will continue to progressively destroy their ability to unleash murderous attacks on peaceful, law-abiding Nigerians.

'In this regard, it is worthy of note that in recent  weeks national security agencies have identified and arrested more of these agents of darkness than at any other time. Their hideouts and modus operandi are also being consistently exposed.

'President Jonathan assures all Nigerians that Government will continue to build on these recent successes by our security agencies until terrorism is totally defeated in the country with the support, cooperation and solidarity of all patriotic citizens.

'The President therefore calls on the populace to remain patient and refrain from taking matters into their own hands through actions such as reprisal attacks, as Government continues to take the battle to the  merchants of terror and close in on their locations, funding and sponsors' he said.