MAIDUGURI - Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility on Monday for a suicide car bombing of a church in northern Nigeria that killed 12 people the day before.

A suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a church during a Sunday serving in Yelwa, on the outskirts of the city of Bauchi, forcing his car through a checkpoint.

"We thank God for giving us victory. We successfully carried out a suicide bombing on a church at Yelwa in Bauchi state," an emailed statement from Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa said. The email address was the same the sect always uses.

Boko Haram, which wants to impose an Islamic state on parts of Nigeria, has been blamed for hundreds of killings in bomb or gun attacks over the past two years.

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