Investigations Ongoing Into Christmas Day Bombings: “We are Looking Beyond Boko Haram,” Police Say
The attack, which government officials had already suspected to be the handwork of dreaded Islamic sect Boko Haram, was claimed by the sect in a statement delivered to journalists in Maiduguri by sect spokesman Abu Qaqa.
However police officials investigating the attack say they are looking beyond the sect.
According to the AFP, a spokesman for police in Niger state, where Madalla, the site of one of the major bombings is located, said on Monday that authorities had not yet determined who was behind the attack.
“We are looking beyond Boko Haram because other people bent on destabilising the government might be doing these things in the name of Boko Haram,” said Richard Oguche.
The international community has condemned the attacks – with the Vatican, UN Secretary General, the United States and Britain all speaking out against it.
In a statement, the Vatican called the attacks a sign of “cruelty and absurd, blind hatred”; the White House condemned the attacks as “senseless violence” and pledged support in finding the perpetrators; while U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague called the attacks “cowardly”.
In his statement, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan described the bloodily attack as an “unnecessary affront” to innocent civilians and the National Security Adviser, General Owoye Azazi, said it was an “unnecessary bloodletting by a group, whose objectives are not in consonance with any genuine religious tenets”.
Azazi provided further details of the attacks, which saw the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a town in Niger State, on the outskirts of the nation’s capital city of Abuja, bombed and over 35 killed.
The AlJazeera reported that several bodies had been mutilated. Azazi said attackers threw improvised explosive devices from a moving vehicle in Madalla as worshipers were leaving the building, adding that “two of the criminals had been apprehended, caught in action.”
In Jos, the Mountain of Fire Ministries was attacked as well, however police officers on duty at the church stalled the attackers and a shootout ensued. The attackers also threw explosives at the church, destroying its fence. While no worshiper was killed, a police officer died in the attacks.
Reuters also reported a church in Gadaka, Yobe State was attacked, while the state’s capital city of Damaturu also suffered another bomb attack when a lone suicide bomber attacked a security convoy, killing three security personnel.
Residents in Damaturu, the site of the several recent attacks claimed by the sect, are reportedly fleeing the city today, afraid of more attacks.