By BosNewsLife’s Africa Service with additional reporting by Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– American soldiers are searching for hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian Christian schoolgirls, after officials confirmed Christians were among victims in massive bomb blasts and other attacks that killed at least some 170 people.
In a letter sent late Wednesday, May 21, the White House said 80 members of its armed forces will station in neighboring Chad to “support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area.”
The White House made clear that “The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required.”
President Barack Obama informed the House speaker and the president of the Senate of the move as required by law when armed forces are moving to another nation.
The movements came while authorities confirmed that suspected Islamic militants killed nearly 30 people in two villages near Chibok, the northern Nigerian town where more than 200 school girls were kidnapped last month by the feared Boko Haram group.
GUNMEN STORM VILLAGE
Witnesses said gunmen stormed their village overnight Tuesday, May 20, and killed at least 17 people. The attackers reportedly also stole food and set homes on fire.
Residents in nearby Shawa said gunmen killed at least 10 people during an attack on Monday, May 19, the Voice of America (VOA) network reported.
Authorities also confirmed that suspected Islamic militants set off two bombs in the busy market of a mainly Christian area in Nigeria’s central city Jos on Tuesday, May 20, killing at least 118 people and injuring 45 others.
The attacks came just two days after a suicide bombing in northern Nigeria killed some 20 Christians, church officials said.
The Methodist Church of Nigeria, an Assemblies of God Church and a Universal Reformed Christian Church, located on Middle Road in Kano city were said to have been the bomber’s intended targets.
CAR BOMB DONATES
Witnesses said the bomber detonated the car bomb early amid fears that a group of Christians, from whom he was asking directions to the three churches, had become suspicious of his intentions.
Reverend Murtala Marti of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Kano said in published remarks that he believes 20 Christians were killed, but added that police still claim “only five died.”
Police Superintendent Aderenle Shinaba told reporters that four civilians, including a 12-year-old girl, and the bomber were confirmed dead following the blast.
Eyewitness Abdul Dafar told Reuters news agency that he heard “a loud blast and there was a lot of smoke.” Safar said, “Soldiers came in to cordon off the place and ambulances were rushing people to hospital.”
President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, has come under pressure to improve security for Christians in Nigeria’s troubled north.
Boko Haram, which means “Western Education is Sinful” has ordered non-Muslims to leave the region.
In a sign of hope, Chigozie Nnorom, a six-month-old baby, survived Sunday’s attack relatively unscathed after being knocked off his mother’s arms by the impact of the explosion, Nigerian media reported.
Joy Nnorim, the baby’s mother, told The Sun newspaper that “People were going about their businesses when suddenly, a blast occurred and my baby flew off my arms and I landed in another direction.”
Both Joy and Chigozie were hospitalized in Kano’s Foreign Quarter.
(BosNewsLife (2004-2014) is the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians. It has been ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since May 2004).
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