Bombs Explode in Mainly Christian Area of Jos, Nigeria

Boko Haram suspected in massive destruction of lives, property.

Area of mainly Christian-owned shops in central Jos, Nigeria, after May 20 blasts. (Morning Star News)

Area of mainly Christian-owned shops in central Jos, Nigeria, after May 20 blasts. (Morning Star News)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspected Islamic extremists set off two bombs in a mainly Christian area of the central Nigerian city of Jos today, causing massive destruction of human lives and property, sources said.

Two days after a suicide bombing in northern Nigeria killed an estimated 20 people, Islamic extremist Boko Haram rebels were suspected of setting off the bombs near shops belonging to Christians in the central market district of Jos. At press time an official with the National Emergency Management Agency said at least 45 people were wounded and 118 bodies had been recovered, with more expected to be found in the rubble.

The first bomb exploded at 3 p.m., with the second one detonated about a half hour later, as efforts were underway to evacuate the dead and wounded. The bombs were planted in the Railway Terminal area.

Shortly after escaping the blasts, a Christian woman who owns a shop in the area told Morning Star News she was returning to her business when she heard the explosions.

“I had left my shop and went out and was just returning when the bombs exploded,” said the woman, who requested anonymity. “I put through a phone call to some of my colleagues, and they confirmed that three Christian brethren, a man named Dauda, and two other Christian women, have died from the blast.”

At the Plateau State Specialist Hospital morgue, so many charred corpses were placed on the floor by emergency rescue workers and the Red Cross that a Morning Star News correspondent could not take count of them. The same situation prevailed at the morgues of Jos University Teaching Hospital and the Bingham University Teaching Hospital.

Boko Haram, which seeks to destabilize the government by creating religious tensions in its bid to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, has bombed sites in the capital city of Abuja and in states in its base in the northeast. In Jos, it claimed responsibility for the bombing of a church on Christmas Day of 2011.

The group is suspected in the suicide bombing of a Christian area of northern Nigeria’s city of Kano on Sunday night (May 18) that killed about 20 people, though police said the toll was only five including the bomber.

The Rev. Jerry Faruk, director of Missionary Support Ministry, said Christians need to respond with prayer.

“We have hope that there is a solution in sight, as we know that God answers the prayers of the just,” he said. “We have been praying for the Nigerian government, asking for God’s wisdom for it to enable it take measures to contain the situation. We believe that at the appointed time, this problem of insecurity shall be overcome.”

The Rev. Alex Maisani of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) said the time for the Nigerian government to act is now.

“This is terrible and barbaric,” Maisani said. “The time for Nigerian Government to act to save the lives of innocent people is now. We cannot continue to have situations like these happening. God will no doubt hold our leaders accountable for not acting to check this menace that is overwhelming our nation.”

He added that Christians in Nigeria have prayed and fasted over the crisis.

Paul Gadzama, director of Relief Missions, a ministry to the persecuted, told Morning Star News that the government needs to step up efforts.

“The bomb attacks on Christians are an indication that these forces of evil are bent in ensuring that we no longer have peace in this country,” he said.

The government, still reeling from the kidnapping of more than 300 high school girls from Chibok, Borno state on April 15, released a statement today saying that President Goodluck Jonathan described the bombers as “cruel and evil” and condemned the “tragic assault on human freedom.”

“Jonathan has directed all relevant agencies to mobilize support and relief efforts in aid of the victims,” said the statement from Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and Publicity.

While Boko Haram (roughly translated as “Western education is a sin”) is the moniker residents of Maiduguri, Borno state gave the insurgents, the group calls itself the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati walJihad, or “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.” In 2013 the U.S. government designated it a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and it has links with Al Shabaab in Somalia and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. Those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.

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