A new spate of attacks against Christians in Nigeria, has left a further 27 people dead, amid renewed fears about the security situation in the country.
After a brutal massacre on Christmas day, Christians across Nigeria have been bracing themselves against further violence, after Islamist terrorists Boko Haram told them to leave the Northern half of the country.
In an attempt to calm fears and prevent panic, President Goodluck Jonathan publically promised that sufficient security measures are in place to protect all Nigerians.
But further religious and ethnic motivated murders continue to be reported including in the towns of Mubi and Gombe, which are currently in a state of emergency government.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against the violence at a Vatican reception today, saying: "In many countries, Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes."
The Pontiff singled out the Nigerian Christmas bombings for special mention and said that religious leaders needed to make clear that religiously motivated terrorism was "not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction."
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, and Muslims live alongside Christians throughout the country. President Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian, and he took on the post after the previous head of state Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim, died in 2010.
Now there is growing concern about his government's apparent inability to tackle the rising levels of sectarian violence, blamed on radical Islamic group Boko Haram which was founded in 2002 to prevent ‘sinful’ western influences from reaching Nigerian Muslims.
Boko means ‘Western Education’ and Haram means ‘Forbidden’.
Islamic clerics who have spoken out against the violence have also been assassinated, and President Jonathan has admitted that he may have Boko Haram sympathisers in his government.
Boko Haram's violent attacks reached their peak so far in 2011, with around 550 killings attributed to them, including the Christmas Day bombing campaign which left 39 dead and dozens wounded.
January 9th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross