Boko Haram members killed in Nigerian military operation

28 September 2012

MEMBERS of the Nigerian military killed 35 members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram on Sunday night, shortly after a suicide-bomb attack at a Roman Catholic church in Bauchi State.

A Nigerian military spokesman told Reuters on Monday that the  operation against Boko Haram had been carried out by Joint Task Force troops during Sunday night and Monday morning.

Earlier on Sunday, two people were killed in an attack by a suicide bomber at St John's, in the Bayan Gari area of Bauchi Town. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that it was the second attack in Bauchi Town in the space of a week: the Sunday before last, at least five people were killed, and four later died in hospital, after gunmen fired at a building in the Zongo area of Bauchi Town.

A statement from CSW quoted the Bishop of Bauchi, the Rt Revd Musa Tula, as saying: "Unfortunately, this is an ongoing situation in Bauchi State. Christians are attacked on a weekly basis. We need prayers, because real protection can come only from God. We urgently need prayers from our brethren around the world for the peace of Bauchi State."

The chief executive of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, said that it was "regrettable that Christian com­munities in Bauchi remain extremely vulnerable and are in urgent need of effective protection. We urge the state government to implement compre­hensive, long-term security arrange­ments to guarantee the safety of innocent civilians, and halt these attacks, which are now occurring with alarming regularity."

It was reported in The Guardian on Wednesday, however, that senior political and military figures in Nigeria were pessimistic about the government's ability to prevent at­tacks by Boko Haram. "The situation is not remotely under control," a Nigerian senior official said. "It is just a matter of time before we see more large-scale attacks."

The editor of the newspaper Daily Trust, Manir Dan Ali, said that the government "lacks a coherent strategy for dealing with the problem and its underlying causes of poverty, neglect, and a lack of opportunities for the young".

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Jos, Dr Benjamin Kwashi, said that the sectarian violence conducted by Boko Haram was "specifically against Christians", and not primarily because of "political marginalisation" (News, 7 September).

The Nigeria Inter-Religious Council has called on Muslims to fast and hold special prayers today, and for Christians to do the same on Sunday.

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