A lone suicide bomber killed at least 15 people last Sunday in a terrorist attack on a church in Nigeria’s Bauchi state. On 3 June 2012 a terrorist drove into the compound of the Harvest Field of Christ Church, Yelwa, Bauchi State, detonating a car bomb as worshippers began leaving the morning service.
While no group has so far taken responsibility for the attack, police believe the attack was the work of Boko Haram, the radical Islamist sect whose name in Hausa means “Western education is sacrilege." At least 500 people have been killed in mass terror attacks in Northern Nigeria so far this year – church leaders in Nigeria report the death toll is much higher as sectarian murders in the countryside are seldom reported in the media.
The Nigerian Red Cross reported that at least 15 people were killed in the explosion while dozens more were wounded.
Bauchi state police commissioner Mohammed Ladan told reporters that security barriers guards prevented even more deaths from the massive explosion. The commissioner said: “A lone suicide bomber in a Honda Civic attempted to force his way into the iron barricade at the entrance of Living Faith Church, Ungwan Angas, Yelwa, Bauchi, but was denied entry.”
“In the process, the suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the barrier opposite Harvest Church, Ungwan Yelwa."
“The suicide bomber died on the spot, while nine persons so far have been confirmed dead and 27 others are receiving treatment at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi.”
The blast wave toppled the one church wall, collapsing onto worshippers inside the building.
President Goodluck’s office released a statement urging calm in the face of terror attacks. The president offered his “sincerest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the bombing and has directed federal medical and emergency services to do everything possible to assist the survivors.
“While the recurrence of a heinous attack on a place of worship is most regrettable, the President urges Nigerians not to be disheartened by it."
“Rather, he urges Nigerians and friends of the country to be comforted by the knowledge that the significant reduction in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks is a clear indication of the increasing effectiveness of measures that had been put in place by the security services to combat the evil of terrorism.”
Church of Nigeria leaders have pressed President Jonathan to crack down on Boko Haram. In a speech last week former Archbishop Peter Akinola urged the government not to negotiate with terrorists but treat them as criminals.
In his presidential address to the Diocese of Abuja synod last month, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh urged Nigerians not to lose heart over the jihad waged by Boko Haram.
“This synod called the whole of the country not to lose faith. Because of the bombing and insecurity people were beginning to lose faith in God as if God is not able to protect them," the archbishop said to the 2nd Session of the 8th Synod of the Diocese of Abuja meeting at St. James’ Church Asokoro, Abuja.
People were also “beginning to lose faith in the entity called Nigeria,” he said. “Individuals also are beginning to lose faith -- losing courage in themselves, they feel that everything is collapsing."
But God remained in charge, Archbishop Okoh said. “With God things cannot be out of control, God is in control and the individual will not sink” into permanent despair. “Nigeria is going ahead” in faith, the archbishop said.