Christmas bombs kill at least 38 Nigerians

On Christmas Eve, a Muslim sect attacks churches with deadly explosives

Topics: Terrorism, Africa, Christmas, Religion,

Christmas bombs kill at least 38 NigeriansA child who fled with his mother following a deadly army attack on Ayakoromor village stands at a microcredit organization where they have take refuge with other members of the community in the nearby town of Warri, Nigeria, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010. The military launched Wednesday a massive attack including aerial bombings that was aimed at finding a wanted militant. Civilians caught in the middle tried to escape with their lives, human rights activists say. The violence represents yet another example of how those toiling in poverty in a region that makes billions for Nigeria find themselves caught between a military seeking revenge and power-hungry militants.(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba) (Credit: AP)

Multiple explosions in central Nigeria have killed 32 people and six others died in attacks by Muslim sect members on two churches in the north, officials said Saturday.

Police spokesman Mohammed Lerama said that 32 people died and at least 74 were injured in four bomb blasts Friday night that went off in close succession in different parts of Jos in central Nigeria — a region violently divided between Christians and Muslims.

Manasie Phampe, the Red Cross secretary in Jos, gave slightly different figures and said that 52 people were injured, and that some of the injured were in intensive care at the Jos University Teaching Hospital.

“We have commenced investigations and are making efforts to calm people down,” said Lerama.

Religious violence has claimed over 500 lives this year in Jos and neighboring towns and villages, but the situation was believed to have calmed down.

Nigeria, a country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. The blasts happened in central Nigeria, in the nation’s “middle belt,” where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands.

The violence, though fractured across religious lines, often has more to do with local politics, economics and rights to grazing lands. The government of Plateau State, where Jos is the capital, is controlled by Christian politicians who have blocked Muslims from being legally recognized as citizens. That has locked many out of prized government jobs in a region where the tourism industry and tin mining have collapsed in the last decades.

“What has happened on the eve of Christmas is unfortunate, especially at this time when we want to ensure peace and security in the state,” said Gregory Yenlong, the state commissioner for information. He said that nobody had claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks in Jos.

You Might Also Like

This is the first major attack in Jos since the Plateau State government lifted a curfew on May 20. The curfew had first been imposed in November 2008 during postelection violence but it was extended in January following clashes between Christian and Muslim groups.

More than 300 people– mostly Muslim — were killed in the January violence in Jos and surrounding villages.

The curfew improved the security within a city that has hosted numerous peace conferences to address the violence but the killings continued outside.

Twelve people were gruesomely murdered in March in a small Christian village, attackers cutting out most of their victims’ tongues and there are still regular attacks outside Jos.

Also Friday, six people died in attacks on two churches in Nigeria’s northern region.

State Police chief Mohammed Abubakar said members of the Muslim sect, Boko Haram, attacked two churches at opposite ends of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, late Christmas Eve.

Maiduguri is about 320 miles (520 kilometers) northeast of Jos. The attacks in both cities have not been linked, but Boko Haram was first based in the city of Bauchi, only 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Jos, before moving its operations to Maiduguri.

Danjuma Akawu, secretary of Victory Baptist Church said about 30 men attacked his church on Christmas Eve, killing five people, including the pastor, two choir members rehearsing for a late-night carol service and two passersby who were attacked by the mob

Akawu, who escaped with other witnesses after climbing the church fence, said that the mob was armed with guns, knives and petro-bombs.

He said the attackers came in three cars and dragged the pastor out of his house within the church premises before shooting him to death. They drove off after setting the church and pastor’s house ablaze close to the Maiduguri International Airport.

At the opposite end of the city, Rev. Haskanda Jessu of Church of Christ in Nigeria said that three men attacked his church an hour later, killing a 60-year-old security guard, Philip Sopso. The church was empty at the time of the attack. Jessu said the attackers were armed with rifles.

The Borno State police chief said the attacks could have been prevented if police officers had heeded warnings of a planned attack.

“The police divisions had enough vehicles to prevent these killings,” Abubakar said.

Police have not made arrests but accuse Boko Haram members of a rash of targeted killings in recent months during which more than 30 people have been killed including police officers, soldiers, political and spiritual leaders.

Boko Haram means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language. Its members re-emerged recently after starting a July 2009 riot that led to a security crackdown that left 700 people dead.

The Christmas Eve killings in Jos and Maiduguri add to the tally of thousands who already have perished in Africa’s most populous country in the last decade over religious and political frictions.

——

Musa contributed from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>