This press release from International Christian Concern (ICC) details the terrorist attacks that have occurred in Nigeria over the past month. Due to these attacks, I will always choose to be against Boko Haram. Boko Haram bites!
The Christians of Bauchi, Nigeria were the victims of two deadly attacks that took place on consecutive Sundays. On September 16th, nine people were shot dead by militants in a drive-by. On September 23rd, St. John's Catholic Church was attacked when a suicide bomber detonated outside the church. Three have been confirmed dead and up to 48 were injured. Boko Haram is suspected to be involved in both attacks against the Christians of Bauchi.
Bauchi is located along Nigeria's "Middle Belt," a region that is the border between the mainly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south. It is also the latest site for Boko Haram's campaign of terror against Christians. Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist group responsible for many attacks against the Christians in Nigeria. Its purported aim is to implement a strict form of Shari'a law in Nigeria's northern states and has used terror as a tactic to achieve that end. The sect has claimed responsibility for the August 26th United Nations headquarters suicide bombing in Abuja, Nigeria that killed 23 people, and the Christmas Day bombing in front of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla that killed 35 people. Nine months ago, Boko Haram demanded that all Christians leave the northern states of Nigeria. Since then, Boko Haram has waged an increasingly violent campaign of terror against those that did not leave.
The latest attacks on the Christians of Bauchi started on Sunday, September 16th, when suspected militants connected with Boko Haram opened fire on a known Christian gathering area. Nine people were shot dead and many others were injured by the indiscriminant fire. Then on Sunday, September 23rd, a suicide bomber detonated outside of St. John's Catholic Church. As people were starting to exit the church after early Mass, the bomber attempted to enter the church compound. When the church's security team stopped the vehicle outside the compound, he detonated the bomb. Three people, including the suicide bomber, have been confirmed dead and up to 48 others were injured. The death toll is suspected to rise because of serious injuries sustained by those caught in the blast.
Fortunately, many were spared from this suicide attack because of the security efforts taken by the church. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, a nearby city, said that death toll would have been higher had precautions not been in place, including barricades at the gates of the church compound and a phased dispersal of people after Mass. In a statement to the press, Kaigama said, "There would have been more casualties but people are now security conscious. It was the first batch of people going out of the cathedral who were attacked. Luckily they were not so many."
Christian organizations from Nigeria's Middle Belt, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Metropolitan See, have criticized the government's handling of the escalation of violence against Christians. In a signed statement to the press, CAN said, "We blame these attacks, targeted at Christians in Bauchi, on the shadowy aloofness of the state government which has failed to take precautionary measures and compliment the efforts of Christians in the state. As it is, the state government seems to be unfazed by the calamities happening to Christians. It is sad that after several attacks on Christians in the state, we are still unable to put our fingers on the government's ability to secure the lives, property of Christians and their churches."
These fatalities are just the latest to be added to the already more than 1,400 that have been killed by drive-by shootings and church bombings orchestrated by Boko Haram this year. These attacks, taken in conjuncture with the government's lack of control, shows that the Christians in Nigeria's Middle Belt region have little hope of peace. We at International Christian Concern pray that there will be peace for these brothers and sisters, allowing them to worship and mourn freely without having to deal with another act of cruelty by Boko Haram. Remember the Christians of Nigeria in your prayers. Pray that God protects them from further atrocities and gives them His peace.For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-AfricaAsia@persecution.org