Though overshadowed, perhaps rightly, by the considerably more lethal plane crash, Christians should also be aware that on the same Sunday a suicide bomber attacked a church in the Nigerian city of Bauchi resulting in the death of twenty of the congregants and the injury of forty five others. Nigeria is a Christian majority nation, though only just with Muslims making up most of the remainder of the population. In the North, where Bauchi is located, the population is almost exclusively Muslim, and Boko Haram–the Islamic group responsible for the Christmas Day bombings in Nigeria–have claimed responsibility for the bombing. There were, allegedly, three other assaults planned for the same day, but they were intercepted.
Perhaps more disturbing than the attack itself is the accusation by the local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria that not all of the deaths were the direct result of the explosion:
At a press conference in Bauchi, the state’s chairman of CAN, Rev. Lawi Pokti, alleged: “Twenty Christians and a Muslim have been confirmed dead. Twelve died from the bomb blast while eight were shot dead by the military personnel drafted to the scene to maintain law and order.”
Pokti, accompanied by CAN executives, condemned the bombing and described it as evil, dastardly and satanic.
According to him, “though CAN appreciates the state government’s efforts in responding quickly to the attack and attending to the injured victims by taking them to hospital, we condemn in strong terms the extra-judicial killing and injuring of the unarmed and aggrieved relations of the victims of the bomb blast.”
He added: “Women and children have sustained various degrees of injuries from the military bullets. As far as the civilised world is concerned, we see this as an extra judicial killing.”
Officials are denying any involvement in any of the injuries, going so far as to say, “no soldier or policeman fired at any person,” but the nature of the relationship between separatist Islamic groups and the government of northern states at least makes the CAN’s accusation possible if never conclusively demonstrable. Regardless, it is important that Christians worldwide, but particularly in the West where complacency is so easy a temptation, remain mindful of the ongoing suffering of the Lord’s church throughout the world and lend our eager and familiar support to them in whatever ways we can.