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Nigerian Christian worshippers targeted by Islamic terrorists

Nigerian Christian worshippers targeted by Islamic terrorists
Suspected Islamic terrorists killed as many as 20 Christian worshippers in an attack on a makeshift church at a university in northern Nigeria

A view of the old gate of Bayero University in Kano Photo: REUTERS

By Mike Pflanz, Nairobi
The Telegraph
April 29, 2012

Several small bombs, believed to have been fashioned from fizzy drinks cans, were thrown into a lecture hall that was being used for a Sunday morning service in Kano, a city that has been repeatedly attacked by Muslim radicals.

The explosions killed one person and injured many others. But as the crowd fled the lecture hall, gunmen waiting outside opened fire with automatic rifles.

Several dozen people who had been unable to enter the building, at Kano's Bayero University, who were listening to the service outdoors were also targeted.

Within minutes, as many as 19 others were killed, and their bodies littered the campus grounds as the gunfire continued for up to half an hour more, witnesses said.

"I was inside and we were preparing for a prayer when there was the sound of motorbikes driving fast and then the first explosion," one student worshipper, who gave her name only as Grace, said.

"Everything then happened very fast. There were more bombs, I think, and so many gunshots, there was too much noise and people were panicking."

The attack started at 9.30am as several hundred people attended the church services, said Mohammed Suleiman, a history lecturer at the university.

"For over 30 minutes a series of bomb explosions and gun shots took over the old campus, around the academic blocks," he said.

"Our school security men had to run for their dear lives. You can see smoke all over." No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the use of motorcycles, small improvised explosives and then targeted gunfire meant the strike bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, northern Nigeria's al-Qaeda-linked insurgents.

The group was responsible for an attack on a church in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on Christmas Day, that left 44 people, many of them Christians, dead. Another attack over Easter that killed 41 people was also blamed on Boko Haram.

Once a small outfit pledged only on bringing strict Islamic law to northern Nigeria, the organisation has in recent months shown an increasingly militant agenda. It is known to have at least moral support from al-Qaeda.

Nigeria's army arrived soon after yesterday's shooting but it is understood that the attackers were able to escape without being arrested.

The strike came less than 72 hours after bomb attacks at the offices of the This Day newspaper in Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna killed at least nine people. Several others are still being treated in hospital.

Boko Haram carried out attacks in January in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 dead in the extremists' deadliest attack yet.

:: One worshipper was killed and 16 wounded in a grenade explosion at a church in Nairobi, Kenya's capital, yesterday.

Police said the church pastor was concluding the service when a man who had "camouflaged" himself as a member of the congregation threw the grenade and then ran out into the street.

It is the latest in a series of small explosions across Nairobi that followed Kenya's offensive into neighbouring Somalia to crush al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organisation.


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