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Nigerian Churches Ramp Up Security Against Attack Risk

Anne Look

Throughout northern Nigeria, Christian churches are ramping up security as a militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, targets places of worship. At a church in the northern city of Kaduna, Christians are refusing to let the near-constant threat of attack keep them from Sunday services.



Near-daily violence in northern Nigeria is increasingly targeting churches. Bombings and other attacks have killed dozens of Christians in recent months.

Armed policeman keep watch outside this Assemblies of God parish in the Kakuri area of Kaduna, as church members pray inside.

Trust in God, says head minister, Reverend Emmanuel Daudu, does not mean letting down your guard. "We don't fear but we are security-conscious because we don't have to be relaxing and our enemies to take us unawares. We have to be alert always because we don't know their plans against us or against the church," he said.

All vehicles are checked for weapons and explosives before they enter the compound. Three policemen and a dozen volunteer security guards, led by Aminu Timothy Babah, patrol the grounds.

"We are feeling that let's try and do what we are able to do, to do the best we can, to make sure that the tension that is rising in the minds of people at least is being cooled down or being reduced," he said.

A car bomb exploded on a city street in Kaduna on Easter Sunday, killing 40 people and wounding several more. Many suspect the intended target was a nearby church compound.

The militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, has repeatedly pledged to "purify" northern Nigeria of Christians.

The sect has launched several deadly attacks against churches, the most recent at a university in Kano that killed 15 people.  Witnesses said gunmen threw explosives and then fired at those trying to flee.

Here in Kaduna, Christians like Amako Laraba say nothing can keep them from going to church.

"When you send your children to school, you are little bit afraid what might happen in the town but in the church we are safe. The Bible teach me that we should have faith in God. This is our town. This is our home. This is where we should worship so we feel very free," he said.

The two-hour service is a cathartic experience. Joyous bursts of singing break up bouts of fiery preaching and concentrated prayer.  

There are fears that attacks against Christians in this already volatile region could aggravate tensions, and even spark reprisal attacks on Muslims.

Church members, however, say they continue to pray for redemption and peace.

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by: Peter Barclay
May 07, 2012 5:44 AM
The impact and fear of different religions is astonishing. If people just took time to understand and appreciate differences, it would probably help. However, these attacks etc. are more likely the results of years, centuries, of struggles between these groups and about control.

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