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Systematic suicide bombings at Nigerian churches leave around 16 dead

Country/Region: Africa, Nigeria

Around 16 people were killed and scores wounded in systematic suicide bombings at three churches in a Northern Nigerian state.

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Nigerian Christians are continuing to attend church despite the danger

The explosions in Kaduna state went off within the space of an hour on Sunday morning (17 June). The first two targets were in city of Zaria, the third in the capital Kaduna city.

ECWA Goodnews Church in Wusasa district, which is the site of the first church to be built in Northern Nigeria, was hit at 8.35am. This was followed ten minutes later by a blast at Christ the King Church in Sabon Gari district.

Then at 9.30am, carnage was unleashed at Shalom Church in Kaduna city where a worshipper said he saw the bomber drive a car loaded with explosives into the church building.

There are also unconfirmed reports of two further attacks at churches in Nassarawa and Barnawa, south of Kaduna city.

Police arrested one of the bombers who survived. A 24 hour curfew was imposed in Kaduna in a bid to restore order after riots broke out.

The incidents bore the hallmarks of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which, after committing two attacks on churches last Sunday, declared Christians enemies and threatened further violence.

Kaduna state, which lies on the dividing line between Nigeria’s largely Christian South and predominantly Muslim North, was hit hard in last year’s post-election violence; over 650 people were killed as Islamists rampaged against the re-election of Christian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Targeted attacks on churches and Christians in Northern Nigeria and the Middle Belt have become a weekly occurrence as Boko Haram intensifies its bloody campaign to establish an Islamic state in the North.

Despite the danger, Christians are continuing to attend services. A pastor in Jos, Plateau state, Abraham Ekeneh, said after a church suicide bombing in the city last Sunday:

I always sense the fear in the atmosphere during Sunday services, but we still don’t relent. We cannot stop attending Sunday services because if we do, it means we have helped them to achieve their objective. I encourage all Christians to be security-conscious, but not to stop attending Sunday services.

Churches have increased their security in an effort to protect worshippers. Pastor Ekeneh said:

We now have a heavier gate to prevent any unauthorised vehicle from coming into the church premises. We also don’t allow even our members to park their cars anywhere near the church. These are some of the measures we have taken, but God remains our protector.

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    • Almighty God, we call to You for relief for Christians in the Gwoza area of Borno state in Northern Nigeria, as they face repeated violent attacks by Boko Haram militants. We pray for comfort for the relatives and friends of the hundreds who have been killed, and for the thousands who have been forced from their homes and seen them torched. We ask for Your special protection on Christians as they gather to worship You. We pray for the Nigerian authorities to re-establish control of the area, so that the displaced Christians may be safe from further attacks and free to rebuild their shattered communities. We pray too for their persecutors to come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 15 hours ago

    • “This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution. Allah says we should finish them when we get them.” The leader of the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram was speaking in a video that reasserted their agenda and addressed “the people of the world”, saying, “Either you are with us Mujahedeen or you are with the Christians.” The translation of the video was released as scores of people were killed in suicide bombings in May, including at least 118 in a double attack in Jos, Plateau state on 20 May. Pray that Boko Haram’s murderous campaign to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria will not succeed. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Pray for Bible school students in Vietnam who were subjected to a terrifying night-time raid by police and hired thugs. On 9 June, officers swooped from adjacent rooftops into the church compound that houses the school, while vehicle-loads of people were brought to the site to vandalise the building with bricks, stones and sticks. The students were beaten, punched and kicked before being taken away for interrogation; 20 were left in need of medical attention but were prevented from leaving to find it. Thugs continued to attack the compound over the next ten nights. Pray for the students as they recover from this brutal assault and that they will stand firm in their faith in the face of intimidation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Aug 2014 00:00

    • In an earlier incident in Saisomboon village, three teenage Christian girls were disqualified from taking their final school examinations because of their faith. The village chief said that in following Christianity, Noi (15), Net (15) and Nut (14) had forfeited their right to education. Five families from the village have now converted to Christianity. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom expressed the view that the authorities were trying to find every possible way “to stop the spread of Christian religious freedom in the area”. Pray that the girls will be allowed to complete their education and that opposition to the Christians in the village will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Five Christians have been charged with murder in Laos after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity and later died. Mrs Chan, from Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province, had been ill for two years when she approached the church. Her health improved for a short time, and she and her eight grown-up children came to faith in Christ. The sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial ceremony, but the authorities forbade this unless they renounced their faith, which they refused to do. When Christians in the area protested, five were arrested and subsequently charged with Mrs Chan’s murder. Pray that the God of justice will have compassion on His people (Isaiah 30:18) and ensure their acquittal from this false accusation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

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