- Car bombs were detonated throughout Nigeria following explosions at a number of churches on Christmas Day.
Nigeria’s Escalating Holy War
A week of violence and terror in the country has many fearful of a developing alliance between the Boko Haram Islamist movement and the Sahara fraction of al-Qaeda.
Written by Agathe Panaretos. A spokesman for Boko Haram, an Islamist militant sect with ties to al-Qaeda and al-Shebab in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the Christmas day attacks, which have subsequently led to a surge of violence throughout Nigeria
The blasts that rocked St. Theresa Catholic Church and killed 25 people early Christmas morning were just the beginning of wave of violence across Nigeria targeting Christian communities. Another explosion occurred at a Mountain of Fire and Miracle Church in Jos, a city near the border dividing Nigeria’s Christian South with the predominantly Muslim north. Similar attacks occurred in the region last year on Christmas.
Government troops were on the ground following the explosions. Clashes with armed individuals left over 30 people dead and countless others injured. A local police officer was killed in a shoot out in Jos.
Under the name Abul Qaqa, a spokesman for Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks the following day during an interview with a newspaper from the Muslim north.
The Christmas Day bombings were just the beginning of a wave of terrorist attacks that has swept across the West African country in the past two weeks. In addition to other churches and places of worship, car bombs were detonated along the border between the northern and southern regions.
The terrorist group ordered all remaining Christians in the Muslim north to vacate the region. Following the threat, more churches were burned to the ground and Christian residents began to flee the area.
Boko Haram, whose name when translated means “Western education is sinful,” has launched multiple attacks against Western interests in the past. These latest bombings, however, reignite decades old tensions between the northern Muslim region and the Christian south. Escalating and continuing violence could further aggravate these strains and could threaten to destabilize the largest country in Africa.
The Nigerian government is facing growing criticsm for failing to address Boko Haram’s continued threats and attacks. President Jonathan Goodluck spoke at a church service follwoing the Christmas Day attacks, stating that the greatest obstacle the government faces is the presence of Boko Haram sympathizers throughout the government.
“Some of them are in the executive arm of government, some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some of them are even in the judiciary,” he said, adding “Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.”
The areas along the border between the north and south have been declared a state of emergency, however the violence hasonly escalated and continues to spread throughout Nigeria.