By Danielle Miskell
Special to ASSIST News Service
NIGERIA (ANS) -- Attacks on Nigerian Christians by Islamists are continuing unabated in this West African nation, even during the Christmas season.
CARNAGE: A car burns outside St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria, after one of the country’s coordinated Christmas Day bombings (Photo: Reuters)
Motivated by religious extremist agendas, the Muslim assailants have pillaged various Christian communities by way of firearms, machetes, stones, and sneak attacks throughout the night.
Their attacks are that of typical jihadist fundamentalists, and according to Compass Direct News (CDN) --www.compassdirect.org -- Christian leaders suspect these Islamic extremists are strategically planning and encouraging ongoing slaughters on villages and other Christian communities.
Islamist and Muslim Fulani herdsman attacks on Christians are still at large, and out of them, the Boko Haram sect is believed to be primarily responsible for the recent numerous attacks.
The ratio of Christians to Muslims in the 160 million populated nation, is evenly split, and they, for the most part, co-exist in peace.
But according to an interview that Reuters had with one of the militants of the Boko Haram sect, they are trying to ignite a sectarian civil war and impose Sharia (Islamic) Law across Africa.
Already having killed dozens and displaced hundreds of Christians in recent months, the assaults did not cease even during the holidays.
Members of Boko Haram
On Christmas day, the same Boko Haram sect admitted to being responsible for three church bombings that killed more than two dozen Christians. Among those churches was St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, where officials confirmed 32 dead after a deadly attack where the church was bombed. This last Christmas Sunday has been reflected as “Nigeria’s blackest Christmas ever.”
Waves of attacks continued only hours after the bombing at St. Theresa’s and other reported attacks occurred at Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos; a church in Gadaka located in the northern state of Yobe; and a suicidal bombing that killed four officials at the State Security Service near the town of Damaturu.
These premeditated and coordinated series of attacks have elicited an outrage across Nigeria that has challenged the government’s competency in the matter. Former military ruler and presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, has voiced his disappointment in the government over their “slow response and indifference to the bombings.” In a statement he made to a Nigerian news publication, Buhari said, “This is clearly a failure of leadership at a time the government needs to assure the people of the capacity to guarantee the safety of lives and property.”
Outraged Nigerians have put pressure at an executive level where President Goodluck Jonathan has been confronted about doing more to intervene in order to prevent growing security threats which risk derailing economic gains in the OPEC.
Coming from Vatican City, Benedict XVI as of Monday, condemned the bomb attacks on Christmas day by Islamist militants. The Pope said that news of the bombings in Nigeria brought him “profound sadness,” according to Reuters, and that he felt the attacks were an “absurd gesture” and prayed that “the hands of the violent be stopped.”
He addressed the Nigerian Christian Community and said he was close to them, and then implored all the sectors within the Nigerian society to work together in rediscovering security and tranquility.
State Governor Jonah Jang has also condemned the killings.
The northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has declared a warning of potential religious war in Africa. Secretary General for the CAN, Saidu Dogo, has already initiated defenses against any further attacks, “We shall henceforth in the midst of these provocation and wanton destruction of innocent lives and property be compelled to make our own efforts and arrangements to protect the lives of innocent Christians and peace-loving citizens of this country.”
Reuters has reported that the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States have joined in the condemnation against the bombings and have labeled them as terrorist attacks. They have united in a campaign and pledged to help Nigerian authorities fight against this conflict with extremists.
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