Boko Haram moves into southern Nigeria

2012-02-19 20:12

Abuja - A bomb exploded near a church in the Nigerian town of Suleja, on the edge of the capital, on Sunday, wounding five people, a spokesperson for the emergency services said.

A Reuters reporter on the street near the Christ Embassy Church saw five vehicles with their glass shattered, two of them largely destroyed. Grey ash was cast across the ground.

"No person died in the Suleja explosion. One person was seriously injured and is now in hospital. Four victims had minor injuries while five vehicles were damaged," said Yushua Shuaib, a spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency.

The street seemed otherwise largely unscathed. Soldiers cordoned the area off and were patrolling in large numbers.

Nigerian officials say Suleja and surrounding Niger state have been infiltrated by militants from the Boko Haram Islamist sect which is waging an insurgency against the Nigerian government, formerly confined to the largely Muslim far north and northeast.

The sect, which wants shari'ah law more widely applied across Africa's most populous nation, has become increasingly sophisticated and deadly in its methods in the last six months.

Uyi Idugboe, pastor of Christ Embassy Church, said one of his congregation had spotted a suspicious looking package between two cars when he went outside to check his vehicle was locked. He then alerted everyone to stay indoors.

"The blast struck just a few minutes after our service started at 10:00 When we were alerted, about 25 minutes before the detonation, we called everybody inside the church. That is why we don't have casualties," he said, declining to comment on whether the bomber was targeting the church.

Attacks more lethal

Boko Haram has radiated from its northern heartlands and struck in or around the capital a few times, including a truck bomb last August that gutted the United Nations headquarters and killed at least 25 people.

On Christmas Day, a bomb blast claimed by Boko Haram against a Catholic Church in Madala, just outside Abuja, killed 37 people and wounded 57. The attack heightened sectarian tensions in the country of 160 million, split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

On Wednesday, gunmen suspected to be from Boko Haram stormed a prison in Kogi state in central Nigeria, killing one warden and freeing 119 prisoners, the prison authorities said.

Although the majority of the sect's attacks still occur in its home base in the northeast, its threat has spread and become more lethal. At least 178 people were killed in the sect's most deadly attack last month in Nigeria's second biggest city, Kano.

  • paul.ohia - 2012-02-19 20:45

    Your headline suggests the sect has struck in the South but Suleja is in the North.

      Ian - 2012-02-22 11:54

      agreed!! Here I thought they hit Lagos?! News24 and their weak reporting...

  • spartanx93 - 2012-02-19 20:55

    Time to man up and go hunt the Boko Haram... Shoot to kill!

  • Polotic - 2012-02-19 21:38

    Where is the AU in all of this?

  • lolasupo - 2012-02-19 23:51

    You should learn the geography of Nigeria to guide against inaccurate and sensational headlines. One wonder if we are not just waisting money on AU and ECOWAS. Do they still exist? May Allah save us from these unbaked inpostors using Islam as a cover to take lives of innocent people-muslims and christians. Aamin.

  • Pat - 2012-02-20 02:54

    boko harem are indeed becoming more sofisticated, i feel sorry for innocent nigerians caught up in this. As an ex british army soldier, i see many many simularities to boko harem and the i.r.a our terror for many years, they are no doubt being led and guided by people of position in the north and are being trained by supporters from outside of nigeria, well versed in the art of terror, im afraid to say, your govt just doesnt have the know how or resources to combat this threat, possible one person in nigeria who may change things around is, olusugun obasanjo, he did it once before, albeit against a less sofisticated enemy

  • Lindani - 2012-03-05 19:22

    religion is the source of all evil and the sooner people realise that the better for humanity.

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