Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has said that his government will do all it can to find those responsible for a string of bomb attacks that killed at least 32 people near the central city of Jos, many of whom are believed to be Christians.
|Police are now patrolling the area, urging residents to go home (Photo: AFP)|
According to the BBC, the president promised that the bombers would “face the law.” No group has said it carried out the attacks.
“The Christmas Eve blasts happened in an area where up to 1,000 people died in sectarian clashes this year,” said the BBC report. “The region straddles Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and the Christian south.”
About 74 people were wounded in the bomb blasts. Some are in a critical condition.
In a separate development, at least six people died in attacks on churches by suspected Islamists in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.
Speaking in the capital Abuja, President Jonathan said: “I assure all Nigerians that we shall unearth those behind the Jos bomb explosion and apprehend them to face the law.”
A statement from his office added: “The president expressed sadness at explosions which killed many innocent Nigerians, Christians and Muslims alike.”
The BBC added that Friday night’s bomb explosions occurred during Christmas Eve celebrations in villages near Jos, police say.
Gregory Yenlong, a spokesman for Nigeria’s Plateau state, told Bloomberg news agency that there had been threats “to disrupt Christmas celebrations in Jos.”
“Past clashes have been between rivals gangs of Muslims and Christians, but observers say the underlying causes are economic and political rather than religious,” said the BBC report.
Muslims are generally from the Hausa- or Fulani-speaking communities. They are often nomadic people who earn a living from rearing animals or petty trade,” said the BBC. “The mainly Christian Berom, Anaguta and Afisare groups have traditionally been farmers.
“Some Christian farmers feel they are under threat, as Hausa-speaking Muslims come down from the north looking for pasture for their animals.
In Maiduguri, suspected Islamist sect members attacked at least two churches late on Friday.”
In one incident, petrol bombs killed five people including a Baptist pastor, Reuters news agency reported.
A security guard at a nearby church died in a similar assault, Reuters added.
Helen Bako, a Southern California based social worker who originally comes from the Jos area, told ANS, “I’m greatly saddened by yet another attack on Christian community in Jos. This was well planned and based on information coming out of Jos, the militants had sent messages to the state security that there would strike and indeed they followed through with their threat.
“I received several calls that there were several bomb blasts in the city of Jos. This attacked happened on Christmas Eve. I believe the message here is to discourage Christians from celebrating Christmas, but many have tried in the past and failed, the same fate will be the portion of this militant.
“Herod tried to even eliminate Jesus the one and only reason for Christmas but he failed. Let us pray for peace and comfort on our brothers and sisters in Jos and Nigeria at large.”