By Paul Jongas, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Nigeria
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in northern Nigeria on Tuesday, September 25, mourned at least two people who died in a massive suicide attack on St. John’s Catholic Church in Bauchi city.
Over 40 people were also injured in Sunday’s blast, according to the Red Cross and local police.
“The bomber, a woman and a child are confirmed to have died at the scene, while many others are hospitalized with life threatening injuries,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an advocacy group investigating the attack.
“The suicide bomber came in an Opel Vectra [Sedan] car…He carried out this disastrous act when he was sure that church members were coming out of the church,” a church member told BosNewsLife earlier.
The witness did not want to be identified amid fears of retribution.
“Unfortunately, this is an ongoing situation in Bauchi State,” said the Anglican Bishop of Bauchi, Musa Tula, in published remarks.
“Christians are attacked on a weekly basis. We need prayers because real protection can only come from God,” he added in a statement distributed by CSW.
“We urgently need prayers from our brethren around the world for the peace of Bauchi State.”
Sunday’s blast was the second deadly attack on Christians in Bauchi within a week, according to CSW investigators.
“Last Sunday, four gunmen in a tricycle descended on the Zongo area, firing indiscriminately at a building where people generally gather in the evening to relax and play cards. At least five people were killed on the spot, while four died later in hospital,” the group explained.
It comes amid mounting pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan and his government to improve protection of Christians in especially northern areas of the country. Christian leaders and rights activists claim the central government is not doing enough to improve security in the region, but the president, a Christian, has said he is taking the attacks seriously.
“It is regrettable that Christian communities in Bauchi remain extremely vulnerable and are in urgent need of effective protection,” said CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas in a statement to BosNewsLife.
“We urge the state government to implement comprehensive, long-term security arrangements to guarantee the safety of innocent civilians and halt
these attacks, which are now occurring with alarming regularity.”
Sunday’s attack was believed to have been carried out by Islamic militants of Boko Haram, a group fighting to impose Shariah, or Islamic law in the country.
Boko Haram, which means ‘Western education is a sin’, has claimed previous deadly attacks on churches in which scores of Christians were killed. Some 700 people are believed to have died in its bloody campaign for more influence. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).