The past weeks have seen a dramatic increse in violence against Christians in Nigeria. This includes shootings last week and a suicide bomb attack at a St. John's Catholic Cathedral last sunday. Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist organization, is thought to be behind these attacks after it warned Christians to flee, what they believe, is the Muslim north or pay the price. This level of violence against Christians shows that the Nigerian government is having trouble coping with the threat Boko Haram presents.
9/26/2012 Nigeria (NewAmerica) - More than nine months after Boko Haram, an Islamist terror organization in Nigeria, demanded that Christians immediately vacate the northern states of that African nation, Christians are continuing to be murdered while the government struggles to wage a campaign against the destabilizing guerrilla forces.
The most recent attack perpetrated by members of Boko Haram took place in the northern city of Bauchi, when a car bomb was detonated by its driver at the gates of St. John’s Church. For years, Boko Haram — a name which means “Western education is sinful” in the Hausa language — has waged a campaign of terror against the people of Nigeria in an effort to impose sharia law and to divide the nation between Islamic and Christian territories. As reported previously for The New American, the leadership of Boko Haram demanded in January of this year that all Christians immediately flee the northern states of Nigeria, which the Islamist organization believes should be inhabited only by Muslims. The demand came in the aftermath of Christmas Day bombings which killed dozens of people and left almost 100 wounded.
The September 23 attack on St. John’s Catholic Church was initially reported to have killed two people and wounded nearly 50 others; these figures were later adjusted to report four fatalities — not including the terrorist — with 48 wounded. The attack was the second such anti-Christian assault in Bauchi in one week.
According to the BBC, the attack came in the aftermath of government security forces killing Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa in a gun battle in the state of Kano in northern Nigeria. Other reports mention that the spiritual leader of Boko Haram, Isah Abuja, was also killed in the same battle.
The deaths of Abuja and Qaqa could prove a significant development in the efforts of the Nigerian government to defeat the Islamist insurrection. According to The Sun, an additional 158 suspects have been arrested in the past few days in possession of “sophisticated weapons".
Undeniably, the arrest of so many individuals, and the discovery of a Boko Haram weapons factory is significant; what is unknown at present is what effect these events will have on the capacity of the Islamist organization to continue their campaign of terror. According to press reports, a common complaint in Nigeria is that the nation’s porous borders allow terrorists to smuggle weapons into the country with relative ease.
According to a story for the website AllAfrica, the attack on St. John’s Church came at approximately 9 a.m. on Sunday, September 23, as worshippers were leaving the church following the conclusion of the first service.
Sunday's attack came nearly a week after nine persons were killed and seven others received various degrees of injuries from gunshots in the area.
HURIWA “called on President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Kano States for six months to enable the government to combat the rising spate of bomb attacks in the states.” After nearly 1400 deaths caused by Boko Haram in the past two years, HURIWA’s appeal to Nigeria’s president is hardly an isolated event.
The attack on St. John’s Church came at a time when it had seemed that the level of violence was decreasing. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) issued a statement denouncing the violence, and calling on the state to take the measures necessary to defend citizens from such wanton violence.