Monday, March 12, 2012

Nigerian Tempers Flare as Bombers Hit Jos Again

Tempers flare as suicide bombers hit Jos again

Monday, 12 March 2012 00:00 From Madu Onuorah and Joke Akanmu (Abuja) Isa Abdulsalami (Jos) News
Nigerian Guardian

Soldiers tackle youths at scene of mayhem

Jonathan condemns attack, vows victory over terror

ST. Finbarr’s Catholic Church, Rayfield, Jos, Plateau State, has been a place of worship and sanctuary for many Christian faithful over the years. Although the city has been in the throes of violence for some time now, not many who went to the church for yesterday’s service would have thought that it could turn gory. Regrettably, it did. Indeed, a battle scene couldn’t have been gorier!

Barely a fortnight after suicide bombers attacked the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) headquarters in Jos killing at least six people, St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church, Jos, was yesterday hit by another suicide bomb attack, which claimed 11 lives and left several others injured.

Apparently peeved by the latest attack against the backdrop of several assurances from the government and security forces after earlier bomb blasts in the city, irate youths in the Rayfield area were involved in a face-off with the Special Task Force (STF) personnel who raced to the church following yesterday’s blast. The youths also threatened to attack reporters who made to gain access to the scene.

Twelve worshippers injured in the attacks were evacuated to the Plateau Specialist Hospital for treatment, according to the officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) .

Parish Priest of the church, Rev. Fr. Peter Umoren, told reporters that the attack occurred barely 10 minutes into the Hausa Service, which followed the English Language worship session that ended at 10.00 a.m.

Umoren said: “All we heard was a loud deafening sound that shook the wall of the church to its foundation. The windows and roofing of the church started falling down immediately as a result of the blast.

“The vehicle bearing the bomb, a Jetta, hit the wall of the gate and the car exploded. The engine of the car was thrown inside the church.”

According to eyewitnesses, seven parishioners were killed immediately by the blast alongside four suicide bombers who came in pairs, two, on motorcycles and the other two in the Jetta car.

A helmet and an army camouflage bag could be seen lying on the scorched church premises.

The bombing elicited pockets of reprisal attacks.

Former Plateau State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, worships at the St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church but was not at yesterday’s service.

Governor Jonah Jang escaped the suicide bombers on February 26 following the COCIN attack.

In a reaction, President Goodluck Jonathan has commiserated with the families of yesterday’s bomb attack and the entire congregation at the St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church.

In a statement by his spokesman, Dr. Rueben Abati, President Jonathan called on Nigerians to remain patient and refrain from reprisal attacks as the government continues “to take the battle to the merchants of terror and close in on their locations, funding and sponsors.”

The statement read: “President Jonathan conveys his sincerest and heartfelt commiserations to the families of the victims of the bomb attack earlier today (yesterday) on the St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church, Jos, as well as the entire congregation of the church and the government and people of Plateau State .

“President Jonathan reiterates his administration’s total condemnation of this and all other terrorist attacks on innocent Nigerians and reassures all Nigerians and friends of the country that the Federal Government is doing everything possible to end the spate of mindless attacks and killings in parts of the country.

“The President urges Nigerians not to despair or be discouraged by the persistence of the attacks in spite of government’s efforts to deal decisively with the menace of terrorism within the country’s borders because despite seeming appearances to the contrary, government is indeed winning the war against the terrorists and will continue to progressively destroy their ability to unleash murderous attacks on peaceful, law-abiding Nigerians.

“In this regard, it is worthy of note that in recent weeks, national security agencies have identified and arrested more of these agents of darkness than at any other time. Their hide-outs and modus operandi are also being consistently exposed.

“President Jonathan assures all Nigerians that government will continue to build on these recent successes by our security agencies until terrorism is totally defeated in the country with the support, co-operation and solidarity of all patriotic citizens.

“The President therefore calls on the populace to remain patient and refrain from taking matters into their own hands through actions such as reprisal attacks, as government continues to take the battle to the merchants of terror and close in on their locations, funding and sponsors.”

At the Plateau Specialist Hospital, a victim of the blast, Emmanuel Audu, 24, said he landed on his head and fell unconscious after the bomb threw him up.

Audu added: “I don’t know who brought me here. When I became conscious, I only saw myself here and they told me I was in Plateau Hospital.”

Many of the seriously injured were seen reeling in pains, with some of them unconsciously removing the drips being administered on them.

Spokesman of the STF, Capt. Mdahyelya Markus, could not be reached for a reaction to the incident.

But the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Samuel Dabai, told The Guardian: “The irate youths did not allow the security men to go to the scene of the incident. They said they don’t want to see the security personnel. So, up till now, we are yet to know the casualty figures as they did not allow us in.”

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