Wednesday, July 13, 2011

116. Nigeria: Boko Haram Strikes

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 116 | Wed 13 Jul 2011

NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM STRIKES

By Elizabeth Kendal

On Sunday 10 July around 2:30pm Boko Haram jihadists riding a motorcycle threw a bomb at the All Christian Fellowship Mission on Church Road in Selija, Niger State (Northern Nigeria), only 40km from the capital Abuja. Whilst the worship service had ended and most people had left, a number of members had stayed behind for a meeting. Two of them were killed instantly in the blast, two others died in hospital and seven more were seriously wounded. The explosion was powerful enough to damage the Faith Mission Church next door. Had the bomb been thrown during worship the toll would have been enormous. Later, at about 11 pm, a bomb exploded outside the Ngozi Beer Parlour in Kaduna city, Kaduna State (Middle Belt), seriously wounding more than 20 people.

Boko Haram -- also known as 'the Nigerian Taliban' -- was founded in 2002 in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, by a religious leader named Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf. When Sheikh Yusuf died in police custody on 31 July 2009 Boko Haram declared jihad against the government of Nigeria. In mid-June 2010 Boko Haram formalised its links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM is seeking to gain 'strategic depth' in sub-Saharan Africa and the solid foothold in Nigeria required for operations in West Africa (See RLPB 079). Terrorism has escalated, targeting particularly the police, beer gardens, traditional and religious leaders, churches and centres of non-Islamic education.

On 16 June 2011, Boko Haram perpetrated Nigeria's first ever suicide bombing. The bomber struck Police Headquarters in Abuja, killing eight and wounding dozens, the day after the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Abubakar Ringim, boasted that Boko Haram's days were numbered. In claiming responsibility, Boko Haram declared they had done it 'to prove a point to all who doubt our capability'.

Terror is now routine in Maiduguri. Rev David Usman of the Church of Christ in Nigeria and an assistant were ambushed and shot dead in their church on 7 June. On 26 June a young woman pretending to be a Christian worshipper was caught attempting to smuggle a bomb into a church service. Security officials are on high alert. Some churches have closed their doors, while others are worshipping under tight security. The University of Maiduguri has closed its doors indefinitely in response to general terror and specific bomb threats.

Seven soldiers in the Joint military Task Force (JTF) were killed on 6 July when Boko Haram militants threw a bomb at their patrol van. The subsequent fire-fight between JTF soldiers and Boko Haram continued through the weekend, leaving scores dead. During this time Borno's State Governor Kashim Shettima narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when security agents intercepted a 10-year-old boy who was approaching the governor bearing a bomb. After this daring and shocking incident JTF soldiers reportedly went 'berserk', seizing and shooting anyone they suspected of supporting Boko Haram. The soldiers claim to be frustrated by what they say is the refusal of some locals to volunteer information about the militants.

On 9 July Nigeria's Saturday Tribune reported sources close to the administration had confirmed that Boko Haram is planning a massive terror campaign to coincide with the 31 July anniversary of the death in custody of their founder and leader Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf. Boko Haram claims that more than 100 jihadists trained by AQIM in Sudan and Somalia have returned ready to be deployed. They have warned Muslims not to obstruct them and to avoid Christians, security agents and government employees, who are all regarded as 'infidels . . . marked for elimination'.

(See Religious Liberty Monitoring, 'Nigeria: the Boko Haram threat', 10 July 2011, for more background and detail.)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* Yahweh Sabaoth (the Lord of Hosts / the commander of heaven's armies) will protect and defend his people and that the deadly plots against them will all come to naught.

'But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenceless! Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.' (Psalm 141:8-10 ESV)

* God will give Nigeria's leaders the wisdom, courage and conviction they need to tackle Boko Haram and resist Nigeria's Islamisation.

* God will turn this terror on its head and use it for his glorious purposes: may the violence and terror shake many Muslims and generate an exodus from the darkness of Islam to the light of Christ.

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BOKO HARAM STRIKES IN NIGERIA

Boko Haram, 'the Nigerian Taliban', formalised its links with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in mid-June 2010. Consequently terror has escalated. On 16 June 2011 Boko Haram perpetrated Nigeria's first ever suicide bombing, attacking the Police Headquarters in the capital Abuja, killing eight. Whilst some church bombing plots have been foiled, four Christians died when militants bombed the All Christian Fellowship Mission in Selija, Niger State, 40km from Abuja, on Sunday 10 July. Boko Haram is reportedly planning a massive terror campaign to coincide with the 31 July anniversary of the death in custody of its founder-leader Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf. It has warned Muslims to avoid Christians, police and government employees, declaring these all to be 'infidels . . . marked for elimination'. Please pray that God will protect his people.