On Sunday morning, February 26, two suicide bombers drove their car into the worship service of the Jos Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). Open Doors sources confirmed the killing of at least four people and injuring of over 40 church members. Among the dead was a young girl.
The terrorists forced their way through the church’s security checkpoint after ignoring the guards posted at the entrance who signaled for the car to stop. Security opened fire on the trespassers, shot dead one suicide bomber and injured the second one before the bombs went off, killing the second assailant as well.
The sound of the explosion was heard all over the city. Although the bombers aimed to drive into the church, the bombs were detonated 15 meters before it crashed into the building. If the suicide bombers had succeeded in their primary intentions, the roof would have collapsed on the assembly, killing many more. Nevertheless, it caused excessive damage to the structure including the more than 30 cars that were ruined in the blast.
An Open Doors co-worker visited the scene. The Christians explained to him that the bomber was reportedly following a convoy of soldiers patrolling the streets of the city. At the church the convoy slowed down. The next moment the bombers drove into the church premises, ignoring security. Some eye witnesses alleged that a Muslim soldier has ordered them to allow the perpetrators in. He was arrested shortly after the incident. The Islamist sect, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the bombing.
"The increasingly intentional activity of Boko Haram is now taking on the characteristics of a real war,” said Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. “These are not random attacks, as they're often characterized in the media. They're really intentional, and they're designed with one purpose in mind; the elimination of Christianity. Jos is often described as a religious fault line between the mostly Muslim north and mostly Christian south.”
The Church of Christ in Jos has a large number of state employees among their membership, including the Governor of Bauchi State, Jonah Jang. Church leaders consider that a strong motive for the attack.
Boko Haram has been targeting Christians since Christmas. Sunday’s bombing is the latest in a series of attacks on churches, sparking a riot by Christian youths with reports that at least two Muslims were killed in the violence. A row of Muslim-owned shops were also burned.
Nigeria is ranked No. 13 on the 2012 Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries which are the worst persecutors of Christians. According to World Watch List, Nigeria had at least 300 martyrs in 2011, although the actual number could be doubled or tripled. That number is the most in any country, with the possible exception of North Korea which could have had more but information is hard to obtain due to the isolation of the communist state.
Father, we thank You for the faithful church in Jos. We pray against Boko Haram’s vow to launch more attacks on Jos, and we lift up those injured in the recent attack, as well as the families of those whose lives were taken. Protect and sustain them. Thank You for the clear evidence of Your protection in preventing further injury and destruction. We pray wisdom for the church leaders to guide believers in responding to the ever-present threat of violence with courage and godliness. And as Open Doors co-workers in Jos minister, we pray for their wisdom, courage and protection. In the name of Jesus who continues to build His church in Jos, Nigeria, Amen.