11/26/2012 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that another church in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” region has been attacked by suicide bombers. After Sunday mass, a bus rammed into St. Andrew’s Military Protestant Church before exploding. Minutes later, a second vehicle, also packed with explosives, detonated as church members gathered around the first blast site. Eleven people were killed in the blasts and thirty others were wounded.
“A bus first ran into the church and exploded about five minutes after [the] service while a Toyota Camry parked outside the church detonated 10 minutes later,” army spokesman Brigadier General Bola Koleoso told the African Free Press.
St. Andrew’s Military Protestant Church is located inside the Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Jaji. Jaji is located twenty miles away from the state capital of Kaduna, located in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region where the predominately Christian South borders the Muslim-majority North.
A military officer who witnessed the attack told the press that the first explosion did not cause any casualties, but drew many people to the site. “The first bomber detonated his explosive inside the church… after the initial confusion was just settling and folks had started gathering to think of helping out, the second bomber exploded his car right in the midst of intending first aiders and survivors of the first [blast].”
No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s church bombing, but many suspect the involvement of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
Boko Haram’s stated goal is to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s Northern region. Earlier this year, Boko Haram demanded all Christians to leave Nigeria’s Northern region so it could create a purely Islamic state. Since then, the group has used church bombings and drive-by shootings to terrorize Nigeria’s Christian population.
It is not clear how the bombers were able to gain access to the church located in the military compound. Since Boko Haram started targeting churches, many have increased security by building gates at access points around churches and installing metal detectors at entrances.
The blast at St. Andrew’s is only the latest church bombing in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. On October 28, an SUV full of explosives slammed into St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna city before detonating its deadly payload. At least eight people, including the bomber, died in that attack and over 140 were reportedly injured.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, William Stark, said, “Boko Haram continues to execute its campaign of terror in Nigeria’s Northern and Middle Belt regions. Since the beginning of its insurgency, the group has claimed the lives of 3,000 people. Violence against Christians in Nigeria has become common place and almost every Sunday Boko Haram attacks Christians at their places of worship. Both the Nigerian government and the international community must take decisive action to protect the Christian population in Northern Nigeria and confront the extremist group that persecutes them. In the United States, Nigerian Americans are calling on the US government to label Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which would impede the group’s ability to move weapons and funds across international borders. If decisive action is not taken to confront Boko Haram, the international community risks the collapse of Africa’s most populous nation. This would result in the creation of another failed state in Africa where extremist groups like Boko Haram can find a safe haven to plan further acts of terror.”