Nigeria probes Christmas carnage

2011-12-26 12:40
Abuja - Nigeria on Monday probed a wave of Christmas Day bomb attacks that killed at least 40 and was blamed on Islamists, including one blast that ripped through a crowd of worshippers exiting mass.

The government blamed Islamist sect Boko Haram for three attacks on Sunday, including bomb explosions at two churches -- the deadliest as Christmas mass ended near the capital Abuja -- and a suicide attack in the northeast.

A third church was targeted in the northeast on Christmas Eve, but no one was reported killed. Residents reported another explosion near a church in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri late Sunday, but an army spokesman denied it.

Condemnation

The attack at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla outside Abuja killed at least 35 and left a gruesome scene, with rescuers picking up body parts and putting them in plastic bags while emergency workers pleaded for ambulances.

Some of the wounded, including one man whose entrails protruded from his body, ran toward a priest for final blessings.

The attacks drew widespread condemnation, including from UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the United States and Britain.

Authorities and officials pledged to bring the attackers to justice, but the government in Africa's most populous nation has so far been unable to stop the Islamists, whose attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated and deadly.

President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the violence and his national security adviser called it "unnecessary bloodletting by a group whose objectives are not in consonance with any genuine religious tenants."


Conflicting accounts

While the government blamed Boko Haram and a purported spokesman for the sect claimed responsibility for the violence, conflicting accounts emerged of both the investigation and the attack in Madalla.

A spokesman for police in Niger state, where Madalla is located, said on Monday that authorities had not yet determined who was behind the attack.

"We are looking beyond Boko Haram because other people bent on destabilising the government might be doing these things in the name of Boko Haram," said Richard Oguche.

Describing the attack, National Security Adviser Owoye Azazi said attackers threw improvised explosive devices from a moving vehicle in Madalla, adding that "two of the criminals had been apprehended, caught in action."

Oguche said no one was arrested and the blast occurred after a minibus pulled up near the church. He added that three police officers were among those killed.

"It was just about the time people were leaving the church and there was a (minibus)," said Oguche.

"There were three police officers at the gate and they were trying to prevent those people from coming in. There was an argument and in the process the thing exploded."

Police fire

The attack sparked further chaos in the area, with angry youths setting fires and threatening to rush a police station. Police fired into the air to disperse them and cleared a road for rescue workers.

Other explosions occurred in the central city of Jos, where a church was targeted and policeman was killed in a resulting shootout, and in the north-eastern city of Damaturu, where authorities have clashed with Islamists in recent days.

A suicide blast occurred in Damaturu when the bomber sought to ram into a military convoy in front of a secret police office, killing himself and three security agents. Sporadic gunfire broke out in the city on Sunday afternoon.

In Damaturu on Monday, hundreds of residents were seeking to flee, lining up at taxi and bus stands, seeking to take advantage of the momentary calm in the tense and violence-torn city.

Boko Haram had also claimed responsibility for a deadly wave of attacks in the Jos region on Christmas Eve last year.

Violence blamed on Boko Haram has steadily worsened in recent months, with bomb blasts becoming more frequent and increasingly sophisticated and death tolls climbing.

There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has links with outside extremist groups, including Al-Qaeda's north African branch. It is believed to have a number of factions with varying aims.

Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and most populous nation with 160 million people, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  nigeria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.