Sunday, December 25, 2011

Boko Haram attack Churches on Christmas day - 40 dead

Boko Haram Islamic sect early Sunday morning launched twin bomb attacks on churches in both Abuja and Jos reportedly leaving at least 40 people dead and many more injured.

There are conflicting figures on the numbers of worshipers killed or injured by a bomb blast that exploded in the premises of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madala, Niger State close to Zuba, FCT, shortly after the 6am Mass of Nativity.

Unconfirmed sources gave NEMA account of 25, while a security officer who was at the scene where evacuation was going on gave another figure of 41. However, Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi who pastors the church pointed to at least 17 vehicles, the wreckage of the aftermath explosion said Fr. Achi. " The owners of these vehicles cued up to drive home after the early morning mass where the message of love, peace and joy was delivered to herald the Feast of Nativity. Sadly, what we met was this ugly situation.

A victim was found on the roof of the church. Dead bodies were found in gutters. And many families were burnt beyond recognition inside these vehicles. I do not have the exact number of those recorded dead or injured. The victims have been moved to different hospitals but at St. Lucas hospital, 9 of my parishioners were recorded dead. At Gwagwalada, six were recorded dead, while at Diamond Hospital, a little baby of 5 years who was injured could not locate his parents. Among the victims could have been okada riders and kabukabu taxi drivers who come here to pick passengers  every Sunday. I dont usually cry, but today i wept with my house-hold of 5000 worshippers, seeing some of our brethren  bombed out of existence. Nigeria must intensify its efforts in the area of security and guarranty freedon of movement and worship."

According to eyewitnesses, the Abuja blast tore through St Theresa's Church in Madalla as worshippers gathered for Christmas services.

The second explosion, which occurred shortly after the Abuja attack, hit a church in Jos, killed at least one policeman and destroyed three vehicles.

The area around the scene of the Abuja blast degenerated into chaos after the explosion, with angry youths starting fires and threatening to attack a nearby police station.

Police shot into the air to disperse them and closed a major highway. Emergency officials called for more ambulances as rescuers sought to evacuate the dead and wounded.
An emergency official told reporters that the authorities were struggling to cope with the casualties.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman, Yushau Shuaibu told the BBC that the explosion had happened in the street outside the church.

But he said the church had been badly affected by the blast, and the number of dead was likely to rise.

Earlier he told Reuters news agency: "We are presently evacuating the dead and the injured, but unfortunately we don't have enough ambulances.

"Most of our ambulances have gone to operate on the major highways of the country."

Officials at the local hospital said the condition of many of the injured was serious, and they were seeking help from bigger medical facilities.

Businessman, Munir Nasidi was in a hotel opposite the church when the blast occurred.

He told the BBC: "When I came out of the hotel, people were running around. Everyone was crying. They were bringing out casualties. Nobody was getting near the building as there was a fire."

Security had been beefed up in recent time following recent skirmishes between Boko Harem gunmen and soldiers in Yobo and Borno States have killed over 50.

Eye witnesses said windows of nearby houses had been shattered by the explosion.

Officials at the local hospital said the condition of many of the injured was serious, and they were seeking help from bigger medical facilities.

Boko Haram - whose name means "Western education is forbidden" - often targets security forces and state institutions.

The group carried out an August 2011 suicide attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja, in which more than 20 people were killed.

A string of bomb blasts in Jos on Christmas Eve 2010 were claimed by Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, in Rome, the Catholic Church has condemned the latest terror attacks by the Islamic religious sect.
Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi damned the latest attacks as blind, absurd "terrorist violence" that enflames hate.

"We are close to the suffering of the Nigerian Church and the entire Nigerian people so tried by terrorist violence, even in these days that should be of joy and peace," Lombardi was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Our correspondent who visited some churches in the Federal Capital Territory however reports that the incident did not dampen the enthusiasm of worshippers as most were full as expected.

Rather, there is heightened security consciousness as unknown people entering some of the church premises were screened by local security details.

This Day

Related stories: Video - Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram 

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

No comments:

Post a Comment