News24

Vatican slams Nigerian 'terrorist' attacks

2012-04-30 08:03

Kano - Attackers with bombs and guns opened fire at church services at a Nigerian university on Sunday, killing about 20 people as worshippers tried to flee, witnesses and officials said.

Explosions and gunfire rocked Bayero University in the northern city of Kano, and witnesses said they targeted two campus church services - one outdoors, the other in a building but with the crowd spilling outside.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the attack was similar to others carried out by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram which has targeted Christian church services.

The military, which regularly downplays casualty figures in attacks, put the death toll at seven.

However, an AFP correspondent counted six bullet-riddled bodies near one site, and at least another dozen bodies could be seen on a roadside by the university, although the exact number was unclear.

An emergency services official said 22 people were being treated, mainly for gunshot wounds.

Witnesses said the attackers arrived in a car and on two motorcycles, then opened fire and threw homemade bombs, causing panic. They said worshippers were gunned down as they tried to flee.

"They first attacked the open-air service outside the faculty of medicine," one witness said.

"They threw in explosives and fired shots, causing a stampede among worshippers. They now pursued them, shooting them with guns... They also attacked another service at the sporting complex."

A witness, who said he was at the sporting complex, reported hearing gunshots outside while they were praying.

Pandemonium


"Then there was pandemonium," he said, recounting how he saw two men outside shooting indiscriminately.

A crowd of people later gathered at a Kano hospital waiting to hear news about friends or family.

The Vatican condemned what it called "terrorist" attacks on Christians in Kenya and Nigeria and called for restraint to prevent a cycle of violence.

In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, a man on Sunday set off a grenade during a church service, killing one worshipper and also sowing chaos.

In another attack against Christians, in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, four people were shot dead as they were leaving a church on Sunday, a Christian organisation said.

One of the victims was believed to be a pastor at the Church of Christ in Nigeria, said Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation which monitors violence against Christians in Nigeria. Authorities could not be reached for comment.

In recent months a wave of violence has convulsed Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, which is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

Boko Haram's increasingly bloody insurgency has claimed more than 1 000 lives since mid-2009. Police and soldiers have often been the victims, but Christian worshippers have also been targeted.

Boko Haram claimed attacks on January 20 in Kano, the largest city in the north, when co-ordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead, the highest toll so far.

Dialogue

On Thursday, bomb attacks at the offices of the ThisDay newspaper in the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna left at least nine people dead.

The group has previously targeted churches, including on Christmas Day when at least 44 people were killed in a bombing at a church outside Abuja.

A bombing on Easter Sunday near a church in Kaduna killed at least 41 people, but Boko Haram is not known to have claimed it.

The group also claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at the UN headquarters in Abuja which killed at least 25 people last August.

Boko Haram initially claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria's north, but its demands and structure have become less clear in recent months.

It is believed to have a number of factions, some with political motives, as well as a hardcore Islamist wing. Criminal groups are also believed to have carried out violence under the guise of Boko Haram.

An attempt at indirect dialogue between the group and the government in March collapsed, with a mediator quitting over media leaks and a spokesperson for the Islamists saying they could not trust the government.

President Goodluck Jonathan, during a visit on Saturday to the newspaper offices in Abuja hit by Thursday's suicide attack, did not answer directly when asked whether dialogue was necessary to stop the violence.

"You may dialogue, you may not dialogue, depending on the circumstances," Jonathan told reporters.

"But we will exploit every means possible to bring this to an end."

Comments
  • Gieljam - 2012-04-30 08:57

    Funny that no condemnation has been forth coming from any muslim source. In Bosnia the serbs where bombed for atrocity's against muslims , hope the same will be done in nigeria against these cowardly barbaric criminals if to say it isn ot yet known if it is boko haram is to say it never happened.

  • Marius Koen - 2012-04-30 09:28

    All in the name of Allah?

      Sango - 2012-04-30 10:33

      that is why i'm happy to be a south african no terrorists for now.

  • Jeffrey - 2012-04-30 10:01

    People are blaming Boko Haram, but there is no proof that they did this. Perhaps it was the Methodist or Baptist Church followers who carried out these attacks. Don't be so quick to blame Islam, it is the "Religion of Peace".

      Neville - 2012-04-30 12:37

      Are you nuts your people are killing your own people in the name of ALLAH , The prophet must be very dissapointed with his people, once again not all moslems , but you never ever condenm this killings, they find their joy in killing other people because they hate America SHAME ON YOU

      Gieljam - 2012-05-01 18:53

      jeffrey please refrain from saying things in such a manner that people see you are an @ss rather keep quiet so they can think you are a donkey.

  • Gillwubb - 2012-04-30 10:04

    This reminds me of a similar incident when terrorists threw a grenade and opened fire on the congregation in a Kenilworth church of Cape Town - 27 people died and over a hundred were injured. It shows how depraved and twisted an ideology can get and how it is misdirects evil at basically harmless people. Islam has a cloak of war and terror draped around it, and while touting a sinless existence, it hides a dagger of deceit and hatred pointed at the pinnacle of good.

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