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Blast in east Nigeria's Taraba wounds eight: official

LAGOS (Reuters) - An explosion near a state television studio in eastern Nigeria's Taraba state wounded eight people overnight, the emergency services said on Saturday.

It was the second blast in the remote town of Jalingo, in Nigeria's volatile ethnically and religiously mixed Middle Belt, in two days. A blast at an outdoor bar there killed at least one person and wounded 14 on Thursday.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Yushua Shuaib said by text message that a woman and five children were among the wounded, alongside two others. The blast happened near a studio of the state-owned NTA television station.

There was no claim of responsibility for either blast, although suspicion is likely to fall on Islamist sect Boko Haram, which is waging a low level insurgency against President Goodluck Jonathan's government.

The insurgents want to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, a country of 160 million people split about evenly between Christians and Muslims. They have been blamed for many hundreds of deaths in bombings or shootings and are seen as the number one security threat to Africa's top energy producer.

Taraba state had been mostly spared the insurgency sweeping across north and central Nigeria until April, when a bomb attack against the police chief's convoy killed 11 people.

A military crackdown on Boko Haram in the north appears to have weakened the sect, leaving it less capable of carrying out large-scale, coordinated attacks like the one that killed 186 people in Kano in January. Yet it has also pushed it into new areas away from its northeastern heartland.

The sect usually targets the security forces or government offices, although churches and bars are also often hit. The United States has labeled three of its members 'terrorists'.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks and Isaac Abrak; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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