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Are they terrorists yet? Boko Haram, an Islamist sect seeking to impose Sharia throughout Nigeria, attacked three church services on Sunday, April 29, 2012. The latest slaughters added twenty-seven more dead to 900+ victims of the past two years’ efforts by Boko Haram to kill all the Christians in northern Nigeria. In recent months, the sect has also been marking the houses of Christians in the north, targeting them for killing, forcing thousands to flee from their homes.
On the morning of April 29, Boko Haram struck Catholic and Protestant worship services simultaneously at Bayero University in Kano. Twenty-two so farhave been confirmed dead, and twenty-three wounded. In the evening they attacked a church service in Jere, near Maiduguri, Borno State, killing another five people.
U.S. Congressmen Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) recently wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging that she designate the group as a terrorist organization. Meehan’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence released an extensive, bi-partisan report on Boko Haram as an “emerging threat to the U.S. Homeland.” But the State Department continues to downplay Boko Haram’s Islamist nature, preferring to see the terrorist murderers – of whom even the Nigerian police are afraid – as victims of poverty and marginalization.
One survivor of the April 29 attack on the Catholic Mass was a geography professor, Emmanuel Olofin. Olofin reported that Mass had just gotten underway in the university indoor sports complex at 8:10 AM when the worshippers heard the sound of “gunshots and pellets falling on the roof of the building.” According to reports, the attackers arrived in a car and two motorcycles. They threw explosives into the building and sent people into a panic. They fled from the building, straight into the attackers’ line of fire.
Professor Olofin, age 71, leaped over an eight-foot fence instead of using the actual exit in the gate. “I believe that most of the people that died were those who took the pedestrian exit because it seemed as if the attackers used the pedestrian gate to gain entrance,” said Olofin, who found refuge under a tree. Among the dead were two of Olofin’s university colleagues, Professors Jerome Ayodele, Department of Chemistry, and Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi, Library Science.
At the same time the attack on the Catholics was taking place, other members of the sect attacked the Chapel of Victory Protestant church service, meeting outdoors near the Faculty of Medicine. Professor Julius Falola, who was preaching when the Islamists arrived, recounted a horrific scene similar to that described by Professor Olofin. Explosions and gunshots were followed by fleeing church members who provided easy targets for Boko Haram killers.Falola said that some of the Christians “jumped over the fence while others ran deeper into the campus.” Falola hid in the university clinic. Falola and Olofin, as well as other witnesses, said that the police did not arrive until 10 AM. “The shooting went on for 45 minutes,” said Falola.
Boko Haram topped off their killing spree later that night, by opening fire on the Church of Christ in Nigeria parish in Jere. Because of a state of emergency in the town, worshippers had foregone meeting in the morning in favor of what they assumed would be an unnoticed and therefore less dangerous evening worship. Halfway through the service, witnesses reported that the Islamists came “in their trademark car, Volkswagen Golf, dressed in flowing gowns.” After “their routine shout of ‘Allah akbar,’ they . . . headed straight for the altar” where they shot and killed the pastor, Reverend Albert Naga. Four others died from the attack, as well.
In response to Sunday’s targeted killing of Christians by Boko Haram, Secretary Clinton put out a paragraph on May 1, saying that the United States “strongly condemns the recent attacks on innocent civilians in Nigeria, including yesterday’s disgraceful assault during church services at Bayero University in Kano.” Clinton said that they are “concerned about attacks on churches, news media, and government installations that increasingly target innocent civilians across Northern Nigeria.” She condemned “attempts by those in Nigeria who seek to inflame Christian-Muslim tensions, and support those who recognize Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversity as one of the country’s greatest strengths.” She concluded by saying that “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who were killed and injured.”
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