(ADDS CLAIM OF RESPONSIBILTY FROM BOKO HARAM, CHANGING LEAD AND DEATH TOLL)
By BosNewsLife Africa Service
JOS, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Islamic group Boko Haram claimed responsibility Sunday, June 10, for bombing a church and spraying another congregation with bullets in Nigeria’s troubled northern and central region, killing at least seven people, including a suicide bomber and injuring over 40 others
BosNewsLife stringer and evangelist Paul Jongas, who was among the first to report the latest violence, said four people and the suicide bomber died in the attack at the Christ Chosen Church in the city of Jos in Plateau state, which has been the scene of deadly sectarian clashes that killed thousands in the past decade.
Witnesses said Sunday’s bomb detonated outside that church in Jos, located in Nigeria’s so-called “middle belt” region, which divides the mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
Additionally, “many Christians were gunned down by unknown gunmen during a worship service” at the EYN church, or ‘Church of the Brethen in Nigeria’, in Biu city in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, Jongas added.
An usher and another worshipper at the church were killed in the shootings while others were injured, military spokesman Col. Victor Ebhaleme told reporters.
A spokesman for Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin”, later confirmed his group was responsible for the violence.
The group does not recognize Nigeria’s government or constitution and says it is fighting to establish a strict Islamic state.
It also has demanded that Christians leave their homes in northern Nigeria.
Boko Haram has been linked to killing over 560 people this year alone, according to an Associated Press news agency count.
The group increasingly targets churches.
Among the most deadliest incidents was a recent attack on a church Easter Sunday when a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives in the Nigerian city of Kaduna after apparently turning away from a church, killing at least 41 people, officials said.
On Christmas Day, a Boko Haram-claimed car bomb attack on a Catholic church in Madalla near Nigeria’s capital and assaults elsewhere in the country reportedly killing at least 44 people.
There are concerns the latest attacks will further increase tensions between different religious communities.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nations with some 160 million people, divided roughly between Muslims and Christians, according to several estimates.