In yet another bombing targeting Christians in Nigeria, four people and the suicide bomber were killed and more than 48 people were injured outside a Catholic church in the northern city of Bauchi on Sunday.
The suicide bomber, suspected to be a member of the Islamist terror outfit Boko Haram, launched the attack on St. John’s Catholic Cathedral Church in the state capital of Bauchi during the first mass on Sunday, local media reported.
Nigeria’s Thisday newspaper quoted a member of the church as saying that the bomber, who was driving an Opel Vectra car, detonated the bomb as the congregants were coming out after the church’s first service.
The bomber made an attempt to enter into the church compound, but when church’s security team stopped the vehicle outside the church, he detonated the bomb. “We had just come out from the church when we heard a loud sound followed by fire and smoke; we had to run for our dear lives,” the member stated.
The National Emergency Management Agency said five people, including a woman and a child, were killed and 22 others were injured in the attack. However, some newspapers said at least 48 people, including two policemen, were wounded. The toll is expected to rise as several people received serious injuries.
Bauchi deputy police commissioner T. Stevens said, “The situation has been brought under control. We have our men minding all areas.”
While no group had claimed responsibility at press time, the suicide bomber is suspected to be from Boko Haram, which has launched several attacks in Bauchi.
According to an Associated Press count, more than 680 people have died in drive-by killings and bombings blamed on Boko Haram this year alone.
It is believed that Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is sin,” is attacking Christians in the north to incite sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians so that the outfit can press for the separation of the Muslim-majority north from the Christian-majority south.
The actual name of the group is Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’wati wal jihad, which translates as “people for the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad.” Mohammad Yusuf, the Islamist cleric who formed the group about a decade ago in Maiduguri city, was against Western education. Yusuf was from the Salafi movement, which has fueled jihadist terrorism in several parts of the world as a legitimate expression of Islam.
Boko Haram gained technical sophistication and weaponry with help from groups like al-Shabaab in southern Somalia and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, analysts say. The terror group, which also targets police and Muslim civilians, has warned that all Christians living in the north should move to the south unless they want to be killed.
Boko Haram’s attacks escalated and Christians became one of the primary targets after the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south and a leader of the People’s Democratic Party, in the April 2011 election.