News / Africa

Thousands Mourn Church Bomb Victims in Nigeria

Soldiers stand guards outside St. Rita's Catholic church following a suicide bombing in Kaduna, Nigeria, October 28, 2012.
Soldiers stand guards outside St. Rita's Catholic church following a suicide bombing in Kaduna, Nigeria, October 28, 2012.
Heather Murdock
Thousands of Christians from across Nigeria attended a funeral Thursday for the victims of a church bombing two weeks ago that killed 10 and injured 100 people.  Leaders called for peace between Christians and Muslims, saying the Islamist militants suspected in the bombing are at odds with the government, not the church. 

Almost a dozen children, many still wrapped in bandages, fill the front pews of this packed church.  They are survivors of the bomb blast that went off two weeks ago at this same Kaduna Roman Catholic church.  While parishioners pray for their health, this man, Matias Peter, weeps for his lost niece. 

When asked to speak about his loss, he quickly composes himself.

"We are gathered here to give her a decent burial and say goodbye until we meet again," he said. "My special prayer for her is, may God grant her eternal rest and peace."

Archbishop Mathew Man-oso Ndagoso is the head of the Roman Catholic church in northern Nigeria.  At the service, he calls for unity between Muslims and Christians. 

"Despite decades of sectarian violence, there is no war between the two major religions in Nigeria.  Both groups are victims or terrorist attacks that incite violence, and damage Nigeria’s economy and international image," he says. 

After the bombing two weeks ago the streets were quickly emptied and reprisal attacks were quelled.  When churches were bombed in June, 100 people were killed in subsequent attacks before the city was locked down.

Reverend Father Bulus Kalus Luka says this funeral is especially difficult in a city where sectarian violence has caused so much suffering.

"The spirit of which the people are gathered to celebrate the funeral differs because we are together with hearts that are heavy with mixed feelings,” he said. 

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram has been blamed for over 700 deaths this year in attacks that include church bombings.

Diji Haruna Obadiya, the chairman of the youth branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State, says Islamist militants have a beef with the government led by President Goodluck Jonathan, not Christians in general.

"Please we are not government," he said. "This church is not the Goodluck Jonathan church.  This church has no minister in this church.  This church has no government function.  Why should this church be attacked?"

Outside the service, crowds of mourners fill the surrounding streets, which are still covered in rubble from the blast.  Several buildings are destroyed or damaged and some local families say they are now sleeping outside. 

Kaduna is in an area of Nigeria known as the “Middle Belt” where competing ethnicities, economic interests and political leanings fall almost exactly along religious lines.  And like the country as a whole, it is roughly divided between a Muslim majority north and a Christian majority south.

Inside the damaged church, worshippers say despite their differences, they pray that the two groups can one day live in peace.

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna. 

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitcheni
X
September 22, 2014 11:42 AM
With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid