Attacks on Christians in Nigeria Continue

Violence Widely Condemned

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ROME, JAN. 9, 2012 ( Thirty more people died in Nigeria over the weekend, the latest victims in a wave of anti-Christian violence that claimed more than three dozen lives on Christmas Day.

Aid to the Church in Need’s U.K. director, Kyrke-Smith, joined his voice today to the many other criticisms of the violence. 

He called upon authorities in the country to step up action to stop the violence in the north.

His remarks came after last weekend’s episode of violence in which 30 people died in anti-Christian attacks in Adamawa State, in the northeast. 

Previously there were five separate bomb attacks across Nigeria on Christmas Day, killing at least 40 people.

The group behind the attacks is believed to be the Islamist group Boko Haram, who have threatened further violence if Christians and animists do not leave the north. 

There have been warnings of a civil war, along with reports of thousands of Christians and Animists fleeing the north of Nigeria. The country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has imposed a curfew in some northern states.

Over the weekend Jonathan said he suspected that there were Boko Haram sympathizers in his government, the police and other state security agencies.

Last week Aid to the Church in Need interviewed Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja. He told them that Christians and Muslims in Nigeria come from the same families and have a long history of living and working together.

Archbishop Onaiyekan stressed that after the attacks over Christmas many Muslims wrote to him expressing their sympathy and that eight imams visited him to express condolences.

His remarks were confirmed by the actions of some Muslim youths who organized themselves into groups to guard worshippers in some churches in parts of Minna, Niger State capital. 

«We are protecting our fellow Christian brothers and sisters to show the people that our leaders cannot use religion to divide us,» they told a local newspaper «Leadership.»


Benedict XVI is strongly condemning the violence. He mentioned the situation during his address today to the diplomatic corps. And regarding the Christmas Day bombings, he said after the Angelus last Dec. 26: «I learned with deep sorrow the news of the attacks which this year too have brought mourning and grief to several Churches in Nigeria on the Day of Jesus’ Birth.»

«I would like to express my sincere and affectionate closeness to the Christian community and to all who are affected by this absurd act, and I ask you to pray to the Lord for the many victims,» he added. 

The Pope urged all to work to restore safety and serenity. «At this time I wish to say forcefully once again: violence is a way that leads only to suffering, destruction and death; respect, reconciliation and love are the only way to achieve peace,» he concluded.

The attacks show no sign of stopping. Last Sunday an attempt to plant a car bomb at the Living Faith Church, Kaduna, was foiled by the church’s security guards, the Nigerian newspaper «The Moment,» reported. The attempt occurred while the Sunday service was in progress.

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