Originally published in Morning Star News
Suspected terrorists from the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group set off four bombs that hit two churches in Kano city on Monday night (July 29), killing at least 45 people, sources said.
The Rev Ramsey Noah, chairman of the Kano state chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), told Morning Star News by phone the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were planted near three churches, blasting two of them as well as nearby Christian-owned businesses. The four devices were detonated minutes apart between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the Sabon Gari area of the city, sources said.
Christians were meeting at Christ Salvation Pentecostal Church at 41 New Road when one explosion hit, and 39 bodies were recovered in the area, Christian leaders said. Christians were also meeting at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church as another bomb went off, and an explosion apparently targeting Peniel Baptist Church did not affect the structure, Noah said.
“On Monday evening at about 9 p.m., four bombs exploded in the Sabon Gari area of Kano,” Noah told Morning Star News. “The bombs we believe were targeted at three churches located in the area. There were worshippers in the two churches affected at the time having evening Bible study programs.”
Total deaths from the church bombings were unknown at press time, but Noah said that as security personnel moved into the area, church leaders had established that at least 45 people in the predominantly Christian area had been killed.
The pastor of Peniel Baptist Church, the Rev. John Adeyemohe, told Morning Star News by phone that many Christians were killed.
“The attacks caused confusion and uncertainty in this area,” he said. “I cannot for now say how many Christians have died or were injured, but I know that several deaths have been recorded as we saw military personnel moving dead bodies away to various hospitals.”
Tobias Michael Idika, a Christian community leader in the Sabon Gari area of the city, told Morning Star News by phone that 45 people had died from attacks believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram.
“On Monday, July 29, between 9 and 9:30 p.m., terrorists we believe are Boko Haram members invaded Sabon Gari, an area we Christians reside in, and planted Improvised Explosive Devices, which exploded almost simultaneously at Enugu/Igbo Road, near the International Hotel, and on New Road, directly opposite the popular Ado Bayero Square, precisely at No. 38, 39, 40 and 41,” he told Morning Star News by phone. “We can confirm 39 deaths along New Road and six deaths along Igbo/Enugu Road. We also can confirm that quite a number of other Christians in the area were injured in the attacks.”
A spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) in Kano, Capt. Ikedichi Iweh, issued a press statement on Tuesday (July 30) asserting that 12 persons had been killed in the attacks, with another 12 sustaining injuries. No group has taken responsibility for the blasts, but Iweh also said Boko Haram was suspected.
A top Islamic organization, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), along with the AREWA Consultative Forum (ACF) condemned the attack.
“We strongly condemn the inhuman and ungodly act in its totality, as it is reprehensible, and we equally call for calm and restraint,” JNI Secretary General Khalid Abubakar Aliyu said in a statement. “As it has always been our prayers, whatsoever is the intent/motive of the perpetrators of these contemptible acts, they will never succeed insha’Allah.”
A spokesman for the ACF, Anthony Sani, said in a statement that the forum was shocked and saddened, and that the act desecrated the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Boko Haram has targeted Christians as well as government, police and military installations in its effort to destabilize the government and impose sharia (Islamic law) nationwide. The group, whose name translates roughly to “Western education is a sin,” has stated that the sole purpose of its campaign of violence is to establish an “Islamic state like during the time of Prophet Muhammad,” though the U.S. Department of State continues to insist that the group is motivated by poverty and marginalization.
Advocacy group Jubilee Campaign has stated that Boko Haram has used religion as its primary recruiting tool, and that statements by the Islamic extremist group’s leaders reveal their motive for violence is “unambiguously waging Jihad.”
“No reference is made in the DOS [Department of State] report to their declared motive,” Jubilee Campaign lamented in an April 29 report.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and reside primarily in the north, according to Operation World.