JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - A bomb blast struck a Catholic church in the volatile central Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, causing numerous casualties, witnesses and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.
"NEMA officials are on the scene of a suspected suicide explosion at Finber's Catholic Church, Rayfield, Jos. They are about to evacuate victims to hospital," NEMA spokesman Yushau Shuaib said.
A Reuters reporter on the scene was unable to gain access, as the police had cordoned off the area around the church.
Islamist sect Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings against churches, raising fears they are trying to ignite sectarian conflict in Africa's most populous country, split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.
Jos has been plagued by ethnic and sectarian conflict in the past decade, although several church bombings there since Christmas have not provoked a marked increase in more general violence.
On February 26 a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into a church in Jos, killing two people and wounding 38. Christian youths beat two Muslims to death in revenge.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden" wants sharia law more widely applied across Nigeria.
Styled on the Taliban, it has become increasingly sophisticated and deadly in its methods in the past six months and widened its targets beyond attacks on police and other authority figures to include Christians.
(Reporting by Buhari Bello; Writing and additional reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Louise Ireland)