May 19, 2014 (Morning Star News) – Christian sources said an apparent suicide bombing in a Christian area of northern Nigeria’s city of Kano Sunday night (May 18) killed about 20 people, more than the police tally of five.
The police death toll for the bombing at about 10 p.m. includes the bomber. The Rev. Murtala Marti of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Kano told Morning Star News by phone that about 20 people were killed in the attack in the Christian “foreign quarter” of the Muslim-majority city.
“The bomb attack occurred on Sunday night along Gold Coast Road in the Sabon Gari area here in Kano,” Marti said. “Twenty Christians were killed in the bomb blast, but police authorities are saying only five died.”
The Kano city Christian leader said that that Christians were killed along the road and in nearby restaurants and bars, though originally the likely target of the attack were three area churches.
“Most often the plot is to get at churches, but when it becomes impossible for the terrorists to get there, they usually detonate their bombs anywhere Christians are gathered, either in churches or restaurants,” Marti said.
Eyewitnesses told Morning Star News by phone that the lone bomber in the vehicle had sought directions to some of the churches from area Christians but detonated the bomb when the Christians became suspicious of his intentions. Area Christians blame Islamic extremist terrorist group Boko Haram for a suicide bombing that killed at least 24 people in Kano in July 2013 and 25 people in the city in March 2013, and one eyewitness assumed the assailant from last night’s bombing belonged to the group.
“The Boko Haram suicide bomber, on sensing that these Christians were suspicious about his inquiries on the churches, detonated the bomb along the road at No. 1 Middle Road, close to three churches,” said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
The likely original targets, he said, were the Methodist Church of Nigeria, an Assemblies of God Church and a Universal Reformed Christian Church (NKST, Nongu u Kristu u i Ser u sha Tar) of the Tiv ethnic group, all located along Middle Road. The explosion occurred at the junction of Middle and Gold Coast roads.
Police confirmed that among those killed was a 12-year-old girl. Aderenle Shinaba, Kano state police commissioner, told reporters that five people were killed and four injured. He said the car exploded before reaching the bomber’s target of an area of an even more dense concentration of restaurants and bars on Gold Coast Road. Muslims are forbidden from drinking alcohol, and Boko Haram seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country.
While Boko Haram (translated as “Western education is a sin”) is the moniker residents of Maiduguri, Borno state gave the insurgents, the group calls itself the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal–Jihad, translated as “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.” In 2013 the U.S. government designated it a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and it has links with Al Shabaab in Somalia and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
In Nigeria’s northeast, U.S. British, French, Spanish and Israeli military units experienced in surveillance, intelligence-gathering, counterterrorism and hostage negotiations are helping to search for nearly 300 high school girls Boko Haram kidnapped on April 15, according to Fox News.
According to police, 276 girls remain in captivity after their abduction from a boarding school in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok, Borno state, while 53 escaped. Witnesses have said the captured girls were driven into the Sambisa Forest on the border with Cameroon, and that some were forced to marry members of the insurgent group while others may have been sent to other parts of Cameroon.
A video purporting to show the girls reciting the Koran does not include the kidnapped girls, a source told the Baptist Press.
Adeniyi Ojutiku, co-founder of Lift Up Now, which addresses needs in his homeland of Nigeria, told the news agency that parents of the kidnapped girls were unable to identify their children in the video.
He said the video is most likely an effort to mislead those searching for the girls.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. Those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.