Bloodshed at Christmas as gunmen strike in Yobe, Borno, Kano

Bombed St. Theresa Church, Madala
Bombed St. Theresa Church, Madala. It was attacked on Christmas Day last year.

It was a tragic Christmas yesterday in Piri village, in the Potiskum local government area of Yobe State, after armed men attacked the community leaving tears, blood and sorrow in their wake.

By the time the men disappeared, at least six worshippers at the local branch of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) had been killed, the church burnt  while scores of worshippers were reported missing.

The pastor of the church is believed to be among the dead, but that could not be independently confirmed on Tuesday.

The gunmen were said to have descended on the church during a midnight mass.

The BBC quoted Zakari Adamu of the Network for Justice, a human rights group, as saying the attackers also attacked the homes of villagers.

The chairman of Yobe State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Idi Garba, told news agency AFP that many worshippers at ECWA were still missing.

Spokesperson for the Yobe command of the Nigeria Police, Adamu Salihu, confirmed the attack, saying unknown gunmen had attacked the village in the early hours of Tuesday.

Mr. Salihu told the News Agency of Nigeria there was no bomb explosion but that there were gun attacks with some casualties.

“We have received report on the attack but there are no details yet.

“There may be casualties but no accurate figure yet, we are still awaiting the details from our men in Potiskum Division,” he said.

Maiduguri too

There were also reports of attacks on worshipers at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri on Christmas Day.

Although details of the incident were sketchy as at the time of this report, a deacon and five church members were reported killed.

Spokespersons of the Borno State Command of the Police and the Joint Task Force could not be reached for comments.

Gunmen shoot LG Chairman in Kano

In Kano, another set of gunmen shot and injured Kambai Sumaila, the Interim Management Chairman of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area of the state.

Spokesperson for the Kano Police Command, Magaji Majiya, who confirmed the incident, said the driver of the chairman was killed on the spot while Mr. Sumaila suffered injuries.

Mr. Majiya said investigation regarding the shooting had begun, adding that the attack occurred early on Tuesday.

Responsibility for attacks

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks but security agencies suspect the extremist Boko Haram sect might be behind the incidents.

Boko Haram set out seeking to impose a stricter form of Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria and end corruption.

Violence by the group, which had only religious interest in the past, is traceable to the five days of clashes in July 2009 between the group and members of the security forces in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, and Kano states that left hundreds dead, including at least 30 police officers.

The police summarily executed the captured Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, along with several dozens of his followers in front of the police headquarters in Maiduguri.

Dozens of its members were also arrested.

Boko Haram frequently said its attacks on the government, especially the police, are in revenge for these killings and an attempt to set free members incarcerated by the police.

Recently, the ideology behind Boko Haram attacks got more confusing with increasing attacks on schools, churches, mosques, media houses and almost any soft target within its reach.

On Christmas Day in 2011, the group struck during two church services in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja,  killing more than 40 people and injuring many others.

  • Lanre

    This is so sad. Whoever is doing this to innocent people must have a good reason. To kill people when there is no war. Why? And it is this same group of “unknown” men. For how long will the prayers go on and the preachments for peace. So Christians in a particular part of the country must be afraid to worship and practice their religion? What is the value placed on the lives of the Christians that have been killed in churches since the most recent count started this time last year? What a shame.

  • Abdulwarith Ibrahim Farouk

    may ALLAH bring the end of these massacre