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‘Don’t pin Jos bombs on religion’

06 January 2011

by Ed Beavan

THE Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria, the Most Revd Benjamin Kwashi, has urged the international media not to con­clude that a series of bomb attacks, which occurred in the city just before Christmas, were religiously motivated.

On Christmas Eve, about six bombs are reported to have gone off in the Gada Biyu and Unguwar Rukuba areas. These are predom­inantly Christian neighbour­hoods in Jos, which is in the Plateau State of Nigeria.

Two of the bombs went off near bars in Unguwar Rukuba. Another targeted Christmas shoppers in a market. Many victims are said to have lost limbs in the blasts.

Further terrorist attacks also took place in Maiduguri, Borno State, in north-east Nigeria, on Christmas Eve, destroying Bishara Baptist Church. The church’s pastor and four elders were burnt to death, and three members of the congregation were also killed. The Boko Haram Islamist sect has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Reuters reports that 80 people in total were killed in the attacks in both Jos and Maiduguri.

Archbishop Kwashi, writing in an open letter after the attacks, said that the international press, with a reporter “from far-away Lagos, was very hasty to put religion into the bombings”.

He wrote: “We do not yet know the sources of the bombs nor what they intended to achieve. The media was quick to say that one bomb was in a Christian area and another in a Muslim area, thereby immediately making insinuations and pitching the two different communities against each other, and thus giving the opportunity for careless, opportunistic, unemployed people to engage in senseless destruction of lives and property.”

He said that media should have “left the bombings as neutral until the investigations are carried out”.

The spokesman of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust in Jos, Hassan, said that the bombings had led to riots on Christmas morning. Three cars had been set alight and drivers had been attacked before soldiers arrived to calm the situation.

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