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29 February 2012

Prayers for Nigeria after church attacked in Jos

Prayers for Nigeria after church attacked in Jos

Alliance member organisations working with the persecuted Church have urged prayer for Nigeria after the latest deadly attack on a church in Jos.

On Sunday (26 February), a suicide bomber drove a car into the Jos headquarters of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) denomination during their morning worship service.

The attack, carried out by Islamist group Boko Haram, resulted in three people killed – an 18-month-old child and two women – and a further 38 injured.

Andy Dipper, CEO of Release International, said: “One of the women, Hajara, had already fled Yobe state to escape the growing violence against Christians. But the violence followed her to Jos and on Sunday she was killed by a car bomb.”

He added: “Hajara’s plight highlights the terrible insecurity facing the Christian minority in northern Nigeria, who are being driven from their homes, and the daily challenge to Christians living in Jos, who are being targeted by Islamist militants.”

The attacks sparked violent reprisals in the area, resulting in two Muslim people being killed.

Andrew Johnston, advocacy director for Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones in this senseless attack, and in the subsequent violence that it triggered. While we are encouraged by increased security presence, which has restored calm and reassured local residents, we also urge for sufficient additional security to be deployed at identified potential targets.”

Release International is calling on the Nigerian government to step up its action against Boko Haram, which models itself on the Taliban, and wants to impose Islamic law in Nigeria. This would also include a more extreme form of Sharia in the north of the country.

The group hopes to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country, which is why Jos – which is the dividing line between the mainly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south – has been a particular target.

According to CSW, there were reports of the discovery of a list of potential targets in Jos, including the COCIN headquarters, the Evangelical Church Winning All headquarters, Living Faith Church and the home of the Anglican archbishop.

“Boko Haram should not be allowed to grow in its influence,” said Andy Dipper of Release. “It is using violent bullying tactics to further its own ideals which are contrary to the vast majority of Nigerians, whether Muslim or Christian.
 
“This terrorist group has no place in Nigerian society. We call upon the government of Nigeria to do everything in its power to stop this small group of trouble-making extremists. Let peace reign in Nigeria in 2012, built on growing communities where people can choose for themselves their path in life.
 
“In response to this desperate situation we are asking Christians to devote a whole month to praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. We urge churches in the UK to make time during their Sunday services in March to pray for Christians in Nigeria.”

(Photo courtesy of Stephanos Foundation)