Wednesday, December 29, 2010

088. Nigeria: Jos and Maiduguri see Christmas terror

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 088 | Wed 29 Dec 2010


By Elizabeth Kendal

Islamic militants sent a loud and clear message on Christmas Eve when they unleashed terror on Christians celebrating Christmas in Jos and Maiduguri. Jos, the capital of Plateau State in Nigeria's 'Middle Belt', sits atop Africa's increasingly volatile ethnic-religious fault-line (see Religious Liberty Monitoring: Why is Jos such a tinderbox ). Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State (north-east Nigeria), is the base of the al-Qaeda-linked Boko Haram (see RLPB 079, 27 Oct 2010: 'Nigeria: al-Qaeda supports Boko Haram expansion').

On Christmas Eve bombs exploded virtually simultaneously at 7.35pm in two Christian neighbourhoods in Jos, hitting shopping precincts, bars and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The terror attack left 38 dead and over 100 wounded, 74 of whom were hospitalised. A previously unknown jihadist group, Jama'atu ahlus-Sunnah Lidda'awati wal Jihad, has claimed responsibility. Jos subsequently erupted into cyclic retaliatory sectarian violence. Special Task Force (STF) soldiers patrolling the Nassarawa Gwom area of Jos averted disaster when they interrupted a group of militants planting bombs outside the First Baptist Church. By late Sunday evening dozens more were dead and wounded, taking the death toll to around 80 with about 120 hospitalised. Some 20 houses were burnt and two mosques and a church vandalised.

Also on Christmas Eve two churches were attacked almost simultaneously in Maiduguri by militants belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked Boko Haram Islamist sect. According to Rev. Haskanda Jessu, three militants armed with guns and petrol bombs attacked his Sinimari Church of Christ in Nigeria, riddling the walls with bullet holes and killing the security guard. About the same time some 30 jihadists descended on Victory Baptist Church on the other side of the city in Alamderi. Shouting 'Allahu Akbar', they dragged out and executed Rev. Bulus Marwa (37) and shot dead Christopher Balami (50), Philip Luka (22), Paul Mathew (21) and Yohanna Adamu (26). Twenty-five other worshippers were wounded as the jihadists razed the church to the ground.

PLEASE PRAY that God will draw the Nigerian Church (north and south) to him in humble, dependent prayer for comfort, peace, justice, security and efficacy in advocacy and mission. May he hear and answer their prayers and increase their faith. 'He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.' (Isaiah 30:19b ESV)