Suicide bomber strikes Nigerian church during service; three killed *Lent: Prayer, Penance and Charity to renew our relationship with God
He drove a Volkswagen Audi car packed with explosives into the compound of the Church of Christ (COCIN) headquarters in Jos at 7.20am on Sunday 26 February. The vehicle sped past a security checkpoint and exploded three metres from the church building.
Two women and an 18-month-old child were killed, and around 50 people were injured in the blast. One of the women had recently fled the anti-Christian violence in Yobe state.
The church and surrounding buildings were damaged, and the windows of around 30 cars parked in the compound were shattered.
The attack took place about 15 minutes into the first of the three services of the day. Around 3,000 worshippers attend services at the Church of Christ headquarters.
One church member, who was planning to attend the second service, said: “It makes me feel tense… we don’t know to which extent this will go until it is controlled.”
Militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which has been behind numerous attacks on Christians in Nigeria, has claimed responsibility for the blast.
Prior to the incident, a list of potential Boko Haram targets in Jos, which included the COCIN headquarters, had reportedly been found.
Elderly Christian’s Throat Slit
Elsewhere in Nigeria, an elderly Christian woman was murdered, with a threatening note – believed to be directed at her son, a pastor – left on her chest.
Shetu Haruna Malgwi (79) was attacked in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri on Wednesday 22 February. The assailants slit her throat, then wrote a note in Arabic with red pen that said, “We will get you soon,” and placed it on her chest. A Bible had been left under the church choir member’s feet.
Boko Haram has been blamed for Mrs Malgwi’s murder.
Church Bomb Blast
On the previous Sunday, 19 February, five people were wounded when a bomb planted near an abandoned car exploded outside a church in Suleja, near the capital Abuja, during a service.
Security guards at the church had noticed something suspicious by the car before the service began and had prompted the pastor to get everyone inside.
Boko Haram is suspected of being behind the bombing. The group, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria, issued on New Year’s Day a three day ultimatum for Christians to leave the North.
Since that deadline expired, numerous churches have been targeted and many Christians have been shot dead.
Boko Haram has also struck at the security forces and at mosques deemed “insufficiently Islamic”. The group is believed to have killed over 300 people so far this year.
- barnabas team
Lent: Prayer, Penance and Charity to renew our relationship with God
Vatican City, February 26, 2012: In his reflections before praying the Angelus this morning with faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI commented on the Gospel reading from this Sunday’s liturgy, St. Mark’s narrative of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
“The Lord chose to undergo the attack of the tempter so as to defend us with His help and instruct us with His example”, said the Holy Father quoting a text written by St. Leo the Great. This episode teaches us that man is never free from temptation, but we can become stronger than any enemy “by following the Lord every day with patience and humility, learning to build our lives not without Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life. The temptation to remove God, to regulate ourselves and the world counting only on our own abilities, has always been present in the history of man”, the Pope said.
In Christ, God addresses man “in an unexpected way, with a closeness that is unique, tangible and full of love. God became incarnate and entered man’s world in order to take sin upon Himself, to overcome evil and to bring man back into God’s world. But His announcement was accompanied by a request to respond to such a great gift. Indeed, Jesus said “repent, and believe in the good news’. This is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert every day of our lives to His will, orienting our every action and our every thought towards what is good. The period of Lent is a good time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance and works of fraternal charity”.
Following the Angelus the Pope greeted pilgrims in a number of different languages, asking them to pray for him as he and the Roman Curia retire for their Lenten spiritual exercises, which begin this evening.