Thursday, July 14, 2011

NIGERIA – Three killed in church bombing amid mounting threat from militia group

Three people died when a bomb exploded at a church close to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Sunday.

Two women were killed instantly when explosives were detonated at the All Christian-Fellowship Mission in Suleja, Niger state – and a man later died of his injuries in hospital. Agence-France Presse (AFP) news agency reports that seven others were seriously injured.

The blast went off just after 3pm, shortly after a service and during a church committee meeting. Windows in one side of the building were reportedly blown out by the force of the explosion.

Although there have been no reports of any group claiming responsibility for the attack, news sources are linking it to Islamist militia group Boko Haram, which launched a series of attacks in the run-up to April's elections. In fact, its campaign of violence has continued ever since, escalating in recent weeks. The group is determined to extend strict Sharia or Islamic law across Nigeria – and has targeted Christians as well as official figures such as politicians, police and the military.

In Maiduguri, capital of Borno state in north-east Nigeria, churches were closed on Sunday during another outbreak of violence the previous day when 'multiple explosions' rocked the city. Members of the Joint Military Task Force charged with keeping order in the state are reported to have gone on the rampage, rounding up and killing people suspected of collaborating with Boko Haram, according to AFP. Local residents accused Task Force members of shooting innocent civilians, however.

United Press International news agency reports that more than 30 people died in Maiduguri over the weekend – and 20 homes were set alight. The violence was reportedly in retaliation for a recent Boko Haram bomb attack on an army patrol, which damaged buildings and vehicles.

Release partner Stefanos Foundation is concerned that recent violence may discourage Christians, particularly in the north of Nigeria, from attending church.

Religious rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that Boko Haram has recently issued a declaration warning Nigerians to avoid Christians, security agents and government officials – or risk death.

(Sources: Agence-France Presse, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, United Press International)

• Pray for all those who were injured and bereaved in the Suleja church bomb attack. Ask God to bless the ministry of this church and add to its number.
• Pray for Christians in Maiduguri, amid warnings of possible attacks by Boko Haram. Pray that they will stand firm in their faith and that they will not allow recent violence to rob them of the opportunity to attend church and meet together for fellowship.

The information in this email can be reproduced in church magazines and news bulletins, provided the source is acknowledged

Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK

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