A suspected car bomb exploded near a church Sunday morning in north Nigeria, wounding at least 33 people and likely killing others, officials said.

The blast happened around a car near a church called Living Faith in a neighbourhood of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state. An initial report from the Nigerian Red Cross in Bauchi said at least 33 people had been wounded and taken to local hospitals.

Police and soldiers cordoned off the area, blocking emergency workers from immediately accessing the site, said Mohammed Garba, an official with the Bauchi State Emergency Management Agency. Red Cross officials said they suspected others were killed by the blast, but could not enter the church’s compound to collect the corpses.

Mr. Garba said officials suspected the blast came from a car bomb. Witnesses also said they thought a bomb had exploded from inside a car near the church.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s Federal Emergency Management Agency confirmed the explosion, but gave no details. Police officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

An Associated Press reporter saw injured people arriving at a local hospital.

The blast comes as Nigeria faces a growing wave of sectarian violence carried out by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s Muslim north, has been blamed for killing more than 530 people this year alone, according to an AP count. The sect’s targets have included churches, often attacked by suicide car bombers.

Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, is split between a largely Muslim north and Christian south.

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