The attack at St Finbarr’s Church happened on Sunday (11 March) at around 10.40am, ten minutes into the second service of the morning. It comes just two weeks after four people were killed in a suicide bombing at theChurch of Christ (COCIN) headquarters in Jos, Plateau State, on Sunday 26 February.
The bomb, which was in a car, was detonated just outside the gate of St Finbarr’s after the vehicle was prevented from driving into the church premises. The blast shook the building and caused the ceiling to fall in and the glass to shatter. Three women, one of whom was pregnant, were among those killed. Surroundingbuildings were also damaged.
The Anglican Archbishop of Jos, the Rt Rev Benjamin Kwashi, said:
It is worrying that two bombs have gone off within the space of two weeks, and many are fearing a third. Most importantly, a palpable terror is being unleashed on Christians so that Sunday is transformed from a day of worship into a day of fear. We are appealing to the church worldwide to pray without ceasing, and to members of the international community to speak up and take action on our behalf so that we are able to enjoy full religious freedom and worship God freely and without fear.
Two men, one dressed in female clothing, approached the gate of St Finbarr’s in a car. A guard at the gate said he needed to check inside the vehicle’s boot, but they refused to open it and detonated the explosives there.
In the aftermath of the blast, there were clashes involving the security forces and youths, which left at least three more people dead.
And late on Sunday, gunmen ambushed Christians in Chugwi village, south of Jos, killing three and injuring another three. The victims included two brothers, aged 25 and 30. The attackers took their victims’ mobile phones and called the deceased’s relatives to claim responsibility for the murders.
Three other people at the nearby hamlet of Dogo Garba were injured by the same gunmen. The shootings are not thought to be linked to the church blast.
Plateau State is in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, between the Muslim-majority North and mainly Christian South. Christians and churches have frequently come under attack in Jos, the state capital.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned Sunday’s bombing and restated his government’s commitment “to end the spate of mindless attacks and killings”. He claimed that the authorities were “winning the war against the terrorists” but the unrelenting campaign of violence by militant Islamist group Boko Haram and the apparent inability of the security forces to prevent their attacks suggest otherwise.
Boko Haram has not claimed responsibility for this latest church bombing, but it comes just a week after a spokesman for the group declared “war” on Christians in Nigeria and said that they were planning coordinated attacks to “eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country”.