A faithful under fire
Christians stand outside a church that was attacked in Jos, Nigeria
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos has called for Christians not to retaliate against Boko Haram, saying: "We must not look at the suffering as a sign that God has condemned us. Rather it is a challenge and sets us on the road to union with him."
A wounded woman is taken to safety after the Christmas Day bomb attack on St Theresa's Church in Madalla
Damage sustained in an attack on a church in Jos
Priests with parishioners after an attack on a church in Bauchi State
St Theresa's Church in Madalla, Nigeria, after the bomb attack on Christmas Day 2011. Photo © EPA/LUSA
In recent months, terrorist attacks have become almost daily occurences in parts of Nigeria, often targeting Christians. In many cases extremist group Boko Haram have claimed responsibility. The attacks include:
December 2011/January 2012: State of emergency declared after Christmas Day attacks
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in parts of Nigeria following attacks by Boko Haram. The measure was enforced in four states in the north-east, the centre and the west of the country with the president vowing to "crush" Boko Haram, and closing international borders in the process.
It followed a spate of violence climaxing in attacks on churches and other targets on Christmas Day. In one attack that day, 44 people were killed and more than 80 others were injured when extremists targeted Massgoers at St Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla, near the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Read more
Boko Haram – waging ' a war on Christians'
Founded in 2001/2, Boko Haram, which literally means 'Western education is forbidden', is described as a Jihadist organisation carrying out violence in a bid to replace secular government with Islamic Shari'a law.
Reports from Nigeria state that in the first two months of 2012 at least 100 Christians were killed by Boko Haram.
Declaring "a war on Christians", a Boko Haram spokesman said the extremists wanted to eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country.
"We will create so much effort to have a proper Islamic state that the Christians will not be able to stay."
January 2012: Massacres spread security fears
A fresh wave of violence against churchgoers in Nigeria left at least 31 people dead and spread security fears across the country. The religiously motivated massacres, three in two days, targeted Christians in Gombe, Mubi and Yola, all in the north-east where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency the week before. The Islamist Boko Haram group said it had carried out the attacks in Mubi and in Gombe.
At least six people died and ten others were injured in the shooting at the Evangelical ‘Deeper Life’ church in Gombe city in the north-east. Pastor Johnson Jauro told reporters that gunmen burst into his church killing people including his wife. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack, which was carried out by extremists who rushed over from a nearby mosque.
The next day at least 17 people died in Mubi, Adamawa state, as gunmen opened fire in a town hall where Christian traders from the ‘Igbo’ group were holding prayers.
Later the same day, it was reported that between eight and ten people had been killed in another attack, on a church in Yola (Adamawa State). "Some gunmen went into the church and opened fire on worshippers killing some people and wounding several others," a local journalist told the AFP news agency.
January 2012: Shootings and bombings target Christians
Christians in the region of Bauchi city, north-east Nigeria, suffered a series of attacks. In the town of Tafawa Balewa, Christians travelling to Sunday services came under fire, while the Evangelical church was destroyed in a bombing which killed at least seven people and left many injured. A fortnight earlier, gunmen attacked and killed three Christian farmers on their farms in Pyakman village, near Tafawa Balewa. Corpses recovered from the farms had bullet wounds and machete cuts.
Elsewhere, St Paul’s Anglican Secondary School was partially destroyed. And in Bauchi city, a reported bomb attack at Our Lady of Loreto Catholic Church caused minor damage, with no casualties.
February 2012: Car bomb injures five
Five people were injured by a car bomb just as Sunday morning worship got underway at Christ Embassy Church, in Suleja ,near the capital, Abuja. The bomb was planted in a car parked directly in front of the church and observers later said that it was also intended to cause damage to another Protestant church, also nearby. Boko Haram was strongly suspected.
February 2012: "We attacked because it is a church"
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack during Sunday service at a Protestant church in Jos, central Nigeria. At least three people died, including a young girl, with 50 others wounded. Reports quoted witnesses saying a car "packed with explosives" rammed the gate of a perimeter fence at the church and exploded a few yards from a wall of the 800-seat church. Boko Haram spokesman Abdul Qaqa told reporters: "We attacked simply because it's a church and we can decide to attack any other church. We have just started."
March 2012: Christians will not be driven out after bombing of Catholic church
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos said the attacks on Christian communities would not succeed in driving Christians from the north of the country. He said: "Evil has taken place but it will not triumph. This tragedy will not erase Christianity..."
The archbishop was speaking after a suicide bomb attack at St Finbarr's Catholic Church, in Rayfield in his archdiocese killed up to a dozen and injured 42 others at early morning Mass at St Finbarr's was interrupted by a suicide car bomb attack. Boko Haram later claimed responsibility. The attack sparked violence between Christians and Muslims leading to more deaths.
Source: Christian Today, 11 March 2012