By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Nigerian Christians mourned their dead Monday, December 26, after at least 35 people died in a Christmas Day bombing at a Catholic Church and at least four others in similar blasts.
Witnesses said hundreds of mourners attended a memorial service in the attacked St. Theresa Church in the town of Madalla, near capital Abuja, surrounded by armed soldiers and bloodstained walls.
The priest of St. Theresa’s, Isaac Achi, reportedly told the crowd that Sunday’s attack made him really cry for the first time in his life.
“I’ve never cried before, but yesterday, I cried,” he said. “This morning, I cried, but with all of you around today, I’ll not cry again. Yesterday more than 40 army men protected me while I slept.”
St. Theresa’s blast was one of four coordinated explosions rocking Nigeria Sunday, December 25, killed at least 39 people.
A few hours after Sunday’s bomb in Madalla, explosions were heard at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church volatile, religiously mixed town of Jos, the administrative capital of Nigeria’s central Plateau state.
A government spokesman, Pam Ayuba, told reporters that gunmen also opened fire on police guarding the area, killing one police officer. Two other locally made explosives were found in a nearby building and disarmed, he added.
Another church in the town of Gadaka in the northern state of Yobe was also targeted, with news agencies quoting residents as saying there were many wounded there.
Additionally, a suicide bomber killed four officials at the State Security Service in one of the other Christmas Day attacks in the northeastern town of Damaturu, police said in published remarks.
MORE BLOODSHED FEARED
Nigerians Christians were bracing for more bloodshed Monday, December 26, after the radical Muslim sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the violence and threatened to carry out more attacks.
A Boko Haram spokesman using the nom de guerre Abul-Qaqa told The Daily Trust newspaper that “There will never be peace until our demands are met,” which he stressed included imposing Sharia, or Muslim, law throughout the nation.
“We want all our brothers who have been incarcerated to be released; we want full implementation of the Sharia system and we want democracy and the constitution to be suspended.”
Pope Benedict XVI denounced the bombings as “absurd” and appealed in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square to pray for the victims.
The European Union, United States and United Nations have condemned the bombings as acts of terrorism and promised to assist Nigeria’s government in fighting “extremists”.
“WESTERN EDUCATION SIN”
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, says it wants to establish a strict Islamic state in Nigeria and doesn’t recognize the government or the country’s constitution.
The country of 150 million is about evenly divided between Muslims, who mostly live in the north, and Christians who dominate in the south. Hundreds of others have died this year in bombings and shootings blamed on Boko Haram, many of them Christians.
Sunday’s attacks, described by media as “Nigeria’s blackest Christmas ever”, also led to political tensions. Opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner who lost a presidential election in April to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian southerner, of showing indifference to the bombings and said the
government was “incompetent.”
President Jonathan, who paid his respect to the nearly 40 victims, vowed Monday, December 26 “to bring the perpetrators to justice.”