Twin blasts in a busy market in the predominantly Christian city of Jos in Nigeria killed more than 100 people, but it will not stop the progress of peace talks between the Church and Muslim leaders.
“We are all worried, but dialogue continues and we are in touch with Muslim leaders. In fact Muslim leaders in Kaduna informed me that there had been a series of explosions in Jos. We should not be intimidated and we must continue our dialogue of peace”, says Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos, to Fides.
The attack, which took place yesterday, targeted the busy Terminus market. Two bombs exploded 20 to 30 minutes apart and lit the entire venue on fire. A journalist on the scene told CNN the first blast was “massive” and sparked chaos with people running and screaming, some bloody, and others so injured they needed assistance to evacuate the area.
A cab driver who refused to give his name said he saw at least 15 bodies and about 30 injured people.
Later, when CNN tried to interview a nurse at a nearby hospital, she was unable to hear above the cries and screams of the injured around her.
The death toll now stands at 118, but officials say it could climb as workers continue to sift through the smoldering debris.
Plateau State Commissioner Chris Olakpe said the blasts were terrorist activities but would not speculate on who he thought was responsible for the carnage. Okakpe confirmed that there were two bombs – one was a suicide car bomb and the second an improvised explosive device in a separate car.
“Terrorists usually want to cause fear and trepidation,” said Olakpe. “By tomorrow, we will get on top of the matter.”
President Goodluck Jonathan issued a statement condemning the bombings as a “tragic assault on human freedom.” The embattled president, who is being widely criticized for his failure to find the nearly 300 school girls who were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, last month, is once again having to apologize to his people for the actions of a murderous band of thugs who have been attacking mostly Christians with impunity since its inception in 2002.
Boko Haram’s goal is to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia and to stop the westernization of the country. Violence linked to the group has claimed an estimated 10,000 lives over the past 12 years.
After describing the terrorists as “cruel and evil,” president Jonathon went on to reassure Nigerians that his government is fully committed to winning the war against terror and “will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilization.” He also reaffirmed his commitment to implementing anti-terrorism measures and resolutions which were decided upon at a recent summit in Paris.
This latest attack came after a bombing on Sunday in the Christian city of Kano in northern Nigeria which left at least four people dead.
Archbishop Kaigama says the leaders of both the Christian and Muslim segments of this country of 170 million people are determined to unify the population and won’t be cowed by the murderous attacks of outlaw groups.
“Before the explosions, ethnic and religious divisions were trying to be dealt with among the different components of our society,” the Archbishop told Fides.
“Let me give an example: Two weeks ago we launched a fundraising campaign to build the new cathedral, given that the current one is too small to accommodate the faithful who attend the celebrations. We also invited Muslim leaders to attend the ceremony and we appreciated their presence. This is a clear demonstration of the progress made in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims”.
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