By BosNewsLife Africa Service
KANO, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Christian worshipers prevented a bomb attack against their church in central Nigeria Sunday, January 31, but scores of other people died in sectarian clashes in recent days, authorities said.
Police said at least 35 people died Thursday, January 28, many of them Christians, in the volatile city of Jos. The attacks came days after riots reportedly killed four people and arson attacks destroyed five mosques and 50 houses.
In neighboring Plateau state’s capital of Jos meanwhile, more than a dozen people had died after clashes sparked by the stabbing Friday, January 29, of university students by Muslim villagers, Christian and Muslim leaders said. A six year old child was among the dead, according to rights investigators.
Churches, mosques, filling stations, houses and food kiosks were set ablaze over the weekend, according to news reports.
In a separate incident in neighboring Bauchi, also a common site of clashes between Muslims and Christians, police said worshipers on Sunday, January 31, had helped foil an attempt to bomb a church.
Bauchi State police commissioner Mohammed Abdulkadir Indabawa said in published remarks that an unidentified man masquerading as a worshiper dropped a laptop bag containing a remote-controlled homemade bomb in a Methodist church in Bauchi city.
Churchgoers became suspicious when the man walked out leaving the bag on a bench but failed to apprehend him as”he took to his heels and joined a motorcyclist waiting for him outside the church and escaped.”
A police bomb squad defused the explosive, which was a “contraption of aluminum shreds, ammonia fertilizer and mobile-phone batteries,” he said.
More than 200 people have died in sectarian violence in Plateau since multiple bomb blasts in Jos on Christmas Eve killed 80 people, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Those involved in the violence include suspected members of an Islamist sect Boko Haram that launched an uprising in 2009 attacked a prison in Bauchi last September, freeing more than 700 inmates.
The group also claimed responsibility for a series of Christmas Eve bomb blasts, including in churches in the central city of Jos that killed dozens.
Further north in Maiduguri, where the sect of believed to have its base, a checkpoint shootout left two suspected members of the radical sect and a policeman dead on Sunday, Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, police commissioner for Borno state, told French News Agency AFP.
Plateau state, part of the so-called middle belt between the mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
The region has been hit by waves of violence in recent years that have killed scores of people, and there has been a sharp increase in clashes ahead of April elections.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is divided almost in half between the two faiths.
About 14,000 people died in ethnic and religious clashes in Nigeria between 1999 and 2009, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group quoted by Bloomberg news agency.