Christians Under Attack in Kenya, Nigeria

 

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SALISU RABIU AND JON GAMBRELL
KANO— The Associated Press
Last updated Sunday, Apr. 29, 2012
Christians at worship came under deadly attack on Sunday in
Kenya and Nigeria, and initial suspicion fell on radical Islamist groups.
The deadliest attack targeted an old section of Bayero
University’s campus in the city of Kano where churches hold Sunday services,
with gunmen killing at least 16 people and wounding at least 22 others,
according to the Nigerian Red Cross.
A later attack in the northeast city of Maiduguri saw gunmen
open fire at a Church of Christ in Nigeria chapel, killing five people,
including a pastor preparing for Communion, witnesses said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attacks
bore similarities to others carried by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko
Haram.
The Bayero University attack occurred around an old theatre
and lecture halls where local churches hold services, according to Kano state
police commissioner Ibrahim Idris, who also said the gunmen rode into the
campus on motorcycles, then threw small explosives made out of soda cans around
the area.
No group immediately claimed responsibility. However, Mr.
Idris said the attackers used small explosives packed inside of aluminum soda
cans for the assault, a method previously used by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram is waging a growing sectarian battle with
Nigeria’s weak central government, using suicide car bombs and assault rifles
in attacks across the country’s predominantly Muslim north and around its
capital Abuja. Those killed have included Christians, Muslims and government
officials. The sect has been blamed for killing more than 450 people this year
alone, according to an Associated Press count.
The city of Maiduguri, the target of second Nigerian attack,
is where Boko Haram once had its main mosque. Witnesses who declined to give
their names out of fear the sect would target them said the gunmen stormed into
the service there and began firing. Most escaped, though as people came out of
hiding later they found the pastor dead in a pool of blood in the sanctuary,
witnesses said. Four other worshippers died in the attack, they said.
In January, a co-ordinated assault on government buildings
and other sites in Kano by Boko Haram killed at least 185 people. In the time
since, the sect has been blamed for attacking police stations and carrying out
smaller assaults in the city.
On Thursday, the sect carried out a suicide car bombing at
the Abuja offices of the influential newspaper ThisDay and a bombing at an
office building it shared with other publications in the city of Kaduna. At
least seven people were killed in those attacks.
In Kenya, meanwhile, a man set off a grenade during a church
service in Nairobi, sowing chaos and killing one worshiper.
Police said at least one person died and 15 were injured.
Nairobi has been hit by a series of unclaimed blasts since late 2011, which
Kenyan officials have blamed on Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked Shebab Islamists.
In March, grenade explosions at one of the main bus stations
in Kenya’s capital killed nine people and wounded 40 others, the deadliest in
the series of attacks.
Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants from neighbouring Somalia
have vowed to carry out a major attack on Kenya for sending troops in.
Associated Press
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