Boko Haram terrorists bombed a large church in Jos on Sunday, killing a church member and a baby, along with themselves. Church security guards prevented the suicide bombers from reaching the church auditorium, where a service was in progress. Claiming responsibility for the attack, a Boko Haram spokesman said, “We have just started.”
The suicide bombers arrived at the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) compound shortly after the 7 a.m. Hausa language service began. A security guard suspected of collaborating with the terrorists opened the gate for their Volkswagen vehicle packed with explosives. But other security guards, who noticed the unusual activity, shot one of the car’s occupants and managed to stop the vehicle before it reached the main church building. The car bomb exploded in the parking area at about 7:20 a.m., killing church usher Grace Daniel, a baby that died later at the hospital and the two bombers. At least 38 others were injured in the bombing. Church services were canceled for the day throughout Jos.
Boko Haram is a terrorist group that seeks to impose Islamic law throughout Nigeria. The city of Jos, in north central Nigeria, is often described as the religious fault line between the north and the south. Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa told The Sun News, “We did what we did as part of our resolve to avenge the killings and dehumanization of Muslims in Jos in the last 10 years.” Qaqa said the church was not chosen for a specific reason. “We attacked simply because it’s a church.”
The blast damaged most of the cars in the parking lot, along with the church’s fence and some nearby homes. The guard who opened the gate for the bombers’ vehicle was seized and beaten by the other guards. Police intervened to prevent them from killing him.
In reprisal attacks later in the day, a mob of non-Muslims lynched a water vendor and a commercial motorcyclist. Two other people were also killed in the attacks, and the mob burned down a motorcycle parts shop not far from the church.
The Jos state governor, Johan David Jang, typically attends the church, but that day he had planned to attend the 10 a.m. English language service. VOM staff members have often worshiped at the COCIN church when in Jos.
President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attack by Boko Haram as well as the reprisal attacks that followed. “Those who seek to divide us by fear and terror will not succeed,” he said.
Sources: The Sun News, VOM Contacts, The Nation, Compass Direct News