Attacks in Africa cause fresh fears among ChristiansSaturday, May 5th, 2012
More than 20 have been killed and many wounded in two separate attacks in Nigeria and Kenya as people were going to Mass last weekend.
In Kano, in the north of Nigeria, an assault was launched by a group of armed men on a university theatre used by Christian students for religious celebrations. So far, at least 20 people have died because of an explosion in the area. Some reports suggest that there were as many as three separate explosions, gunfire followed and police and army surrounded the university.
In the last few months, Kano has seen several bloody attacks at the hands of the Islamic sect Boko Haram that wants to impose Sharia law in the country. The attacks have caused injury to hundreds, mostly innocent civilians. “The State must be more pro-active to counter Boko Haram which has set its sights on the Church," the Archbishop of Jos said in an interview with Fides.
Monsignor Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, said, "They had hoped that the attacks ceased but instead they are becoming more deadly, killing innocent faithful, innocent students and innocent journalists.” The latter referred to attacks carried out on two newspaper buildings in the federal capital Abuja, and Kaduna in the north.
“Boko Haram has expanded the list of targets to hit: police stations, schools, churches, universities, newspaper editors. The Church, especially the Catholic [Church], is a target, because in the eyes of the Boko Haram fanatics, it represents Western culture and values that they claim to fight, in particular Western education, “continued Mgr. Kaigama.
The Islamic group is also attempting to take advantage as northern Nigeria struggles to accommodate inter-religious dialogue.
Mgr. Kaigama explained, "In Kano, it is not a Catholic church that was hit, but a Catholic community gathered in a university area to attend Mass. This is why in Kano, Christians face severe difficulties in building their own churches and places of worship."
Despite the massive deployment of military, the seizures of weapons and explosives and the arrest of militants, Boko Haram has intensified its attacks.
"In my opinion I think the government should reconsider the strategy for combating terrorism,” concluded the Archbishop.
In Nairobi, a grenade was thrown into a Church linked to the congregation God’s House of Miracles just before Mass. At least one person died and more than ten people were injured.
Fides reports that the attack could be related to a dispute about ownership of the land where a place of worship was built or it could be a new retaliation of the Shabaab for the Kenyan military intervention in Somalia.
According to Mike Muasya the Director of the Catholic Agency CISA in Nairobi, "At the moment both hypothesis are considered valid by the authorities.”
by Ann Marie Foley