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Jonathan struggles to halt Boko Haram

by
02 May 2012

by a staff reporter

REUTERS

REUTERS

FURTHER attacks on Chris­tians in Nigeria by the Islamist group Boko Haram killed more than 20 wor­shippers at church services last Sun­day. Gunmen opened fire in a lecture theatre used for services by Christians at the Bayero University campus in Kano.

A witness told the AFP news agency that the attackers had first thrown in explosives and fired shots, “causing a stampede among worship­pers”. “They now pursued them, shoot­ing them with guns. They also at­­tacked another service at the sporting complex.”

Hours later, there was an attack on a church in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, where Boko Haram is based. Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire at a Church of Christ in Nigeria chapel, police said.

The Sunday attacks were followed this week by the bombing of a police chief’s convoy on Monday, which killed another 11 people, and the bombing of the offices of the newspaper The Day.

Boko Haram — which translates as “Western education is forbidden” — released a video this week celebrating the attack on the newspaper, and warning of more attacks on foreign and local media if they published articles insulting to Islam.

Boko Haram has become in­creasingly active in recent months, heaping pressure on the President, Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Christian. He has promised to deal with the insur­gency, which appears to be spreading from its base in the north of the country. He has struggled to contain the attacks, however, and neighbouring states fear that the insurgency will spread.

The President of Chad, Idriss Deby, called for the urgent creation of a regional force to tackle the Boko Haram militants. He said that they were posing a threat to the Lake Chad region. “Our basin is exposed to insecurity because of the permanent threat posed by Boko Haram.”

The attacks on Christians have been condemned by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches (WCC). The Vatican’s adviser on inter-religious dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, said: “Political leaders have to ensure the safety of believers. The state is responsible for the security of all citizens. Cardinal Tauran called for “firmness” against such acts, but warned against revenge. He said that “violence only leads to more violence.”

The WCC said in a statement that its leadership was in close contact with member Churches in Nigeria, Kenya, and other areas where reli­gious com­mun­ities have come under fire in recent times. The Council’s deputy general secretary, Georges Lemo­poulos, pledged spiritual and practical support, and called for prayer and solidarity with those affected.



Explosion: a church in Kenya was attacked last weekend, with a grenade that killed one worshipper and injured 16 others, including the pastor, writes a staff reporter.

The attack on God’s House of Miracles International Church in Nairobi occurred days after the US embassy warned of an impending attack by al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group in neighbouring Somalia.

Reuters reported that a man “camou­flaged” as a worshipper threw the grenade at the end of a service, before running out into the street. He was chased by members of the congregation, but escaped.

The incident was the latest in a spate of similar attacks since Kenyan troops crossed the Somali border last year.

 



Explosion: a church in Kenya was attacked last weekend, with a grenade that killed one worshipper and injured 16 others, including the pastor, writes a staff reporter.

The attack on God’s House of Miracles International Church in Nairobi occurred days after the US embassy warned of an impending attack by al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group in neighbouring Somalia.

Reuters reported that a man “camou­flaged” as a worshipper threw the grenade at the end of a service, before running out into the street. He was chased by members of the congregation, but escaped.

The incident was the latest in a spate of similar attacks since Kenyan troops crossed the Somali border last year.

 

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