Monday, November 07, 2011

NIGERIA – At least 65 killed as extremists target northern churches

Scores of people have died in a series of co-ordinated gun and bomb attacks by Islamist militants in northern Nigeria.

Boko Haram extremists have already claimed responsibility for attacks in Yobe and Borno states on Friday, which targeted churches in particular. The violence is thought to have claimed at least 65 lives, with some sources suggesting figures as high as 150. The death toll is expected to rise as hospitals update casualty numbers, according to the Nigerian Red Cross.

Many people are said to be fleeing Yobe state capital Damatura after multiple attacks reduced police stations and churches to rubble, according to Reuters news agency. A strike on a neighbouring village, Potiskum, left two dead. Boko Haram is committed to extending strict Islamic law or Sharia across Nigeria and its targets often include churches, as well as state security forces.

The BBC reports that nine churches were burnt in Damatura. Nigerian newspaper The Nationreported that several congregations in the city held open-air services yesterday in the burnt-out ruins of their churches. Reuters reports suggest that mosques too may have been damaged in the violence.

Commentators including the BBC report that Boko Haram attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and daring, prompting widespread calls for President Goodluck Jonathan’s Government to take tougher action on the group.

Meanwhile, Release partner Stefanos Foundation reports that three people were killed and 15 injured when unidentified gunmen raided a church in Zonkwa in Kaduna state. In riots that followed the attack, youths from Christian communities blocked roads with burning tyres and attacked a partially built mosque, according to the BBC.

For more news and a country profile about Nigeria click here

(Sources: BBC, Reuters, Stefanos Foundation, The Nation – Nigeria)

• Pray for all those injured, traumatised and bereaved in the latest violence to hit northern Nigeria. Pray that Christians in affected communities will look to God for His peace, protection and justice – and not be tempted to retaliate, despite extreme provocation.
• Pray for wisdom for government officials, including President Jonathan, in knowing how to deal with this extremist threat.

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

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