Nigeria: Islamists bomb churches for Christmas

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us

From Reuters:

By Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh

ABUJA | Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:17am EST

(Reuters) – Five bombs exploded on Christmas Day at churches in Nigeria, one killing at least 27 people, raising fears that Islamist militant group Boko Haram – which claimed responsibility – is trying to ignite sectarian civil war.

Boko Haram, which wants to impose Islamic sharia law across a country of 160 million split roughly between Christians and Muslims, has increased the sophistication of the explosives it uses this year and has increased the number of its attacks.

St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madala, an Abuja satellite town about 40 km (25 miles) from the centre of the capital, was packed when the bomb exploded just outside.

“We were in the church with my family when we heard the explosion. I just ran out,” Timothy Onyekwere told Reuters. “Now I don’t even know where my children or my wife are. I don’t know how many were killed but there were many dead.”

Boko Haram – which in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria means “Western education is sinful” – is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

The group’s low level insurgency used to be largely confined to northeastern Nigeria, but it has struck several parts of the north, centre and the capital Abuja this year.

The sect was blamed for dozens of bombings and shootings in the north, and has claimed responsibility for two bombings in Abuja this year, including Nigeria’s first suicide bombing on the U.N. headquarters in August that killed at least 23 people.

Rights groups say more than 250 people have been killed by Boko Haram since July 2010.

Hours after the first bomb, blasts were reported at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in the central, ethnically and religiously mixed town of Jos, and at a church in northern Yobe state at the town of Gadaka. Residents said many were wounded in Gadaka, but there were no further details.


A Reuters reporter on the scene of the explosion close to Abuja saw the church’s front roof had been destroyed in the blast, as had several houses near it. Five burnt out cars were still smoldering.

“The officials who counted told me they have picked 27 bodies so far,” Father Christopher Barde, Assistant Catholic Priest of the church, said.

There were scenes of chaos after the incident.

“Mass just ended and people were rushing out of the church and suddenly I heard a loud sound ‘gbam’. Cars were in flames and bodies littered everywhere,” Nnana Nwachukwu told Reuters.

“The blast occurred on the road by the church and not inside the church. I happen to also live close by the church. Help was very slow in coming to the injured.”

The later blast in Jos, a tinderbox of ethnic and sectarian tensions that sometimes sees deadly clashes between Muslims and Christians, was accompanied by a shooting spree by militants, who exchanged fire with local police, said Charles Ezeocha, special taskforce spokesman for Jos.

“We lost one policeman and we have made four arrests. I think we can use them to get more information and work on that,” he said.

Police found four other explosive devices in Jos, which they deactivated, he said.

Last Christmas Eve, a series of bomb blasts around Jos killed 32 people, and others people died in attacks on two churches in the northeast of Africa’s most populous nation.


Read the rest there.

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  1. Semper Idem says:

    “…deadly clashes between Muslims and Christians…”

    Read: Muslims attacking and killing Christians.

  2. letchitsa1 says:

    May God have mercy on all the faithful departed and bring their surviving families comfort in this time of loss.

  3. Either this an orthodox practice of Islam, or it’s not…May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

  4. Liz says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine what these poor people are suffering.

  5. DetJohn says:

    I agree with Joe of St Therese.

    Joe, nice that you are posting again.

  6. Father K says:

    Those that died in the bombings, it would seem died in attacks perpetrated out of hatred for the faith, therefore, they are martyrs? Anyone got an opinion?

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    I will wait for this typical and horrific act of violence from muslims against christians to be denounced in no uncertain terms by all “moderate” muslims. I hear moderate muslims are everywhere, and many are in the U.S. I’m certain there will be a statement in tomorrow’s media by organized muslim organizations like CAIR, who will speak out on behalf of the moderates and reassure everyone that violence against christians is abhorrent to true followers of Islam.

    The sad news is, there will be no such statement.

    The sadder news is everyone will continue to act as if there WAS a statement.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Which government leaders are denouncing these things? The only ones I have heard condemn such persecutions are members of the Australian and Canadian Parliaments.

    Our president and others are cowards for the first class. The Pope referred to all religious persecutions in his Ubi et Orbi. Of course, these people are martyrs.

  9. irishgirl says:

    I was horrified to hear of this-early on Christmas morning, of all days!
    May those who died in such a brutal way be received in heaven–and yes, as martyrs!

  10. DHippolito says:

    Why are the organized Christian churches — including the Catholic Church — not doing more to protect persecuted Christians? I don’t mean papal comments in an Urbi et Orbi homily. I mean sustained diplomatic pressure either on the governments (like Nigeria, Iran, Indonesia) that are unwilling or unable to control this carnage or on Muslim imams and theologians who excuse it?

    For that matter, if the American bishops (such as Cdl. George) are so concerned about persecution, then why don’t they do more?

    I am sick and tired of Catholics viewing Islam as “just another monotheistic religion.” Do Christians and Jews engage in this kind of violence? Of course not. Islam is the only “monothesistic” religion that does. Yet most Christians (including the theologically conservative ones) don’t seem to give a damn that innocent people are dying, as long as those innocents are “martyrs” (according to the Christian, not Muslim, interpretation of that word).

    What kind of miserably inert poseurs have we become? Do we think that a holy, righteous God does not notice?

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