A BOMB at a Roman Catholic church in Nigeria has killed at least seven people. The device was detonated on Sunday outside the gate of St Finbarr’s in Jos, which has become a flashpoint for violence between Christians and Muslims. Three women, one of whom was pregnant, were killed.
After the attack, Christian youths carried out reprisals, resulting in the death of at least three people. Reuters said that ten people had been killed in the reprisals, but the charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) described this information as being based on “early reports”, which could not be confirmed by sources on the ground, and which had “stoked tensions in a volatile situation”.
CSW reports that four youths were shot and injured by security forces, after they asked the Joint Task Force how the car driven by the bomber had eluded checks. This led to youths’ mounting a road block and forcing the soldiers out of the area.
No group has yet claimed re-sponsibility for the attack. Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group, however, has carried out a series of similar attacks, including a bomb blast on Sunday 26 February, which killed three people at the Church of Christ in Jos, after which Christian youths beat two Muslims to death in revenge (News, 2 March).
A Nigerian spokesman for Boko Haram told Bikya Masr, an Egyptian news website, last week, that it was planning a “war” on Christians in the next few weeks.
“We will create so much effort to end the Christian presence in our push to have a proper Islamic state that the Christians won’t be able to stay.” On Tuesday, a spokesman for the group told the site of plans to kidnap Christian women as part of its campaign of fear.
The President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Christian, condemned the attacks, but cautioned against despair or reprisals. “Despite seeming appearances to the contrary, government is indeed winning the war against the terrorists, and will continue to progressively destroy their ability to unleash murderous attacks on peaceful, law-abiding Nigerians.”
Vanguard, a Nigerian newspaper, reports that the Christian Association of Nigeria has called on the government to “stop the foot-dragging and pampering of the sect members”.
The Anglican Archbishop of Jos, the Rt Revd Benjamin Kwashi, said: “A palpable terror is being unleashed on Christians, so that Sunday is transformed from a day of worship into a day of fear.”