12th March, 2012
Gunmen shot dead three Christians in Nigeria near the flashpoint city of Jos, hours after 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing and related violence at a church, an official said Monday.
In a separate incident in the northern city of Kano, gunmen in a car opened fire early Monday on a police station that has been the target of several attacks, wounding two officers, according to residents.
The gunmen near Jos struck late Sunday in a village south of the city where Christian-Muslim tensions ran high after the church attack, state government spokesman Pam Ayuba told AFP, though the two attacks were not thought to be linked.
“Unknown gunmen, in an apparent ambush late Sunday, waylaid and shot dead three people and injured three others, all Christians, in Chugwi village,” Ayuba said.
Such violence has occurred repeatedly in and around Jos, located in the middle belt region of Africa’s most populous nation between the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
Clashes between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups in the area have killed thousands in recent years.
“We suspect that the attackers were herdsmen. They left with the handsets of those killed and called numbers on their phones to alert their (the victims’) relations that they were responsible for the killings,” he said from the scene of the attack.
Ayuba, who is a native of the Christian village, said no arrests have been made. The victims included two brothers aged 25 and 30, he said.
Three other persons at Dogo Garba, a nearby hamlet, were wounded by the same gunmen and were taken to a nearby government hospital for treatment, he added.
The shootings came hours after a suicide attack outside a Roman Catholic church in Jos killed seven people, sparking panic and reprisals in which security forces opened fire and youths clashed, leaving three others dead.
It was the second suicide attack on a church in the city in two weeks, after a February 26 attack claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram killed three people and injured dozens.
Government and relief officials told AFP that in addition to the 10 killed, 24 people were injured and had been taken to three government hospitals in the city.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned Sunday’s bombing and reaffirmed his government’s determination “to end the spate of mindless attacks and killings.”
Jos remained tense in the aftermath of the bombing amid fears of a repeat of deadly riots which followed last month’s attack.
The volatile city was gradually returning to normal Monday morning with banks and shops opening for business, residents said.
No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombing.
Monday’s attack in Kano occurred at Mandawari police station, which has been repeatedly targeted by suspected members of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram carried out its deadliest attack yet in Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city, with coordinated bombings and shootings on January 20 which killed 185 people.
Meanwhile, National President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor says he is pissed off that President Goodluck Jonathan is treating terrorists with kid gloves, saying it is time the president acted decisively and dealt with Boko Haram sect.
Oritsejafor was speaking in the wake of another suicide bombing at St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church in Jos.
The cleric lamented the way Christians were being killed and called for a decisive action from the president to tackle the growing terrorism in the country.
The CAN president condemned the suicide bombing, describing it as barbaric and out-rightly condemnable in all ramifications.
He called on well meaning Nigerians to rise up and defend the nation against acts of terrorism and condemned in totality, the Jos bombing.
Oritsejafor, speaking through his Media aid, Kenny Ashaka, said any well meaning Nigerian would not relent in condemning the acts of terrorism in any part of the country, saying this particular one was barbaric and condemnable.
“This is one of the reasons why we called on the Federal Government only last week not to treat terrorists with kid gloves,” he stated
The cleric said it was time the perpetrators of this dastardly acts were nabbed and prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others, lamenting that Boko Haram had been pampered for too long.
“We are using this opportunity once again to reiterate our call on the Federal Government to deal decisively with those who are perpetrating these acts of terrorism in the country. They should not be pampered at all. They should be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land,” he said.
There have been reprisal attacks against Muslims in Jos, with reports of shops being set on fire.
Emergency officials said that four people, including the bomber, were immediately pronounced dead at St Finbar’s Church in the Rayfield area of Jos.
Eyewitnesses said the suicide bombers refused to open the boot of their car when challenged at the church gates before detonating the explosives as worshippers approached them.
Parish priest, Rev Peter Umoren recalled the moment of the explosion: “Just barely 10 minutes into the mass, I heard these blasts… and there was this chaos and the people were finding their way out of the church,” he said.
Pam Ayuba, a spokesperson for Plateau state where Jos is located, told the Associated Press that the blast damaged the church’s roof, blew out its windows and destroyed a portion of the perimeter fence.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attack but said the government was “winning the war against the terrorists.”
He called on people “to remain patient and refrain from taking matters into their own hands through actions such as reprisal attacks.”
—Kazeem Ugbodaga with Agency report