Church service attacked in Kano, Nigeria; at least 15 dead


Excerpts from coverage of the attack of a church service in Kano, Nigeria (fatality figures vary):

According to the AP:

Gunmen attacked church services on a university campus Sunday in northern Nigeria, using small explosives to draw out and gun down panicking worshippers in an assault that killed at least 16 people, officials said.

The attackers targeted an old section of Bayero University’s campus where religious groups use a theater to hold worship services, Kano state police spokesman Ibrahim Idris said. The assault left many others seriously wounded, Mr. Idris said.

According to AFP:

Explosions and gunfire rocked Bayero University in the northern city of Kano, with witnesses reporting that two church services were targeted as they were being held on campus.

One of the services was being held outdoors, while the second was inside a building, but with an overflow audience outside, witnesses said.

Officials were unable to confirm casualty figures, but an AFP correspondent counted six bullet-riddled bodies near one of the two sites.

At least another dozen bodies could be seen on a roadside by the university, but the exact number was unclear.

Musical instruments and half-eaten meals could be seen at the site of one of the services….

Witnesses said the attackers arrived in a car and two motorcycles, opening fire and throwing homemade bombs, causing a stampede. They said worshippers were gunned down as they sought to flee.

According to Voice of America:

Emergency service personnel say they heard three bombs, followed by gunshots, but by noon they were still not allowed on the scene.  Later in the day, as casualty reports trickled in, witnesses said gunmen had attacked a church service with small explosives, shooting people as they tried to flee.

Police say the attackers fled on motorcycles before security personnel arrived on the scene.

This comes after nine were killed in an attack on media houses Thursday in Abuja and Kaduna. An Islamist militant sect known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying the media had issued false reports about the group’s plans and activities. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says the government is doing all it can to fight the group that is believed to be responsible for more than 1,000 deaths since it began attacks in 2009. 

In January, coordinated bombings in Kano killed nearly 200 people, and crippled the city’s economy.  In recent months, President Jonathan has been actively seeking foreign logistical assistance to combat the group, especially from the West.  On Saturday, he condemned the group as he visited the site of one of Thursday’s bombings.

“A terror attack on any part of the country is an attack on all of us, and indeed the whole world because terrorists’ method is to ensure they have maximum damage, so the whole world will begin to look at their direction for relevance,” he added. U.S. lawmakers are considering naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, which could move more American resources to Nigeria.

Many Nigerians have criticized the Jonathan government for being unable to stop Boko Haram, including the country’s national security adviser who suggested the ruling party is partially to blame for the security crisis.  Adam Yusuf is a cook who left his wife and five children in Kano to work in the capital, but he says he is constantly afraid for his family.  Like many Nigerians, he says the government needs to find out what Boko Haram wants and negotiate, rather than trying to fight.

“Call them together and negotiate what they need,” said Yusuf .  “Why are they doing so?  Because of what?  It is simple because fight[ing] cannot solve the problem.  Dialogue.”

Boko Haram says its goals are to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, and procure the release of all imprisoned members.  But Yusuf says no one really knows what they want.

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