Deadly Nigeria bomb attacks condemned by world leaders

Eyewitness Munir Nasidi: "I heard a heavy sound that sent me running"

Related Stories

There has been widespread condemnation in the international community of a series of Christmas Day bomb attacks in Nigeria that killed almost 40 people.

The White House said the attacks were "senseless violence" and the UK foreign secretary called them "cowardly".

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram said it carried out the attacks.

A blast outside a church near the capital Abuja claimed 35 lives, while a policeman died in the city of Jos and four people were killed in Damaturu.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the attacks were "an unwarranted affront on our collective safety and freedom", adding: "Nigerians must stand as one to condemn them."

'Solidarity'

The White House said initial investigation showed the attacks were "terrorist acts" and pledged to help Nigeria bring those responsible to justice.

Analysis

Boko Haram - which has admitted carrying out these attacks - has been locked in an increasingly bloody struggle with the Nigerian authorities since it was founded in 2002.

There were indications these attacks were being planned. In the past week, bombs that were being prepared exploded prematurely in Yobe and Kaduna states.

Then the police raided a suspected Boko Haram hideout in Yobe. Some 60 people were killed in the ensuing gun battle.

Sunday's bomb attacks appear part of a planned offensive by the militants, who are calling for a strict Islamic state.

Spokesman Jay Carney said: "We condemn this senseless violence and tragic loss of life on Christmas Day. We offer our sincere condolences to the Nigerian people and especially those who lost family and loved ones."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed "solidarity in [Nigeria's] fight against terrorism", while German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "Even on Christmas Day, the world is not spared from cowardice and the fear of terrorism."

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "These are cowardly attacks on families gathered in peace and prayer to celebrate a day which symbolises harmony and goodwill towards others. I offer my condolences to the bereaved and injured."

Israel said it would send medical aid to Nigeria and that it "condemned in the strongest terms these attacks carried out on Christmas Day".

The Vatican said attacking a church was "blind hatred" seeking to "arouse and feed even more hatred and confusion".

President Jonathan, who is a Christian, said: "I want to reassure all Nigerians that the government will not relent in its determination to bring to justice all the perpetrators."

Angry crowds

The first attack, outside St Theresa's Church in Madalla, near Abuja, killed 35 and wounded more than 50.

Map

The church and surrounding homes were badly damaged.

Father Christopher Barde told AFP news agency the blast occurred as the Christmas morning service was ending.

"It was really terrible," he said. "Some [wounded] people ran towards me [saying] 'Father anoint me'."

Crowds grew angry over the attack and the slow response of the emergency services.

Reuters reports that thousands of youths have erected roadblocks on the road from the capital to the largely Muslim north, and are being tackled by security forces firing tear gas.

In Jos, a blast close to the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church was followed by gunfire that left one officer dead, government spokesman Pam Ayuba told the Associated Press news agency.

Two explosive devices found in a nearby building were disarmed as military were deployed to the site.

Boko Haram: Timeline of terror

  • 2002: Founded
  • 2009: Hundreds killed when Maiduguri police stations stormed
  • 2009: Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf captured by army, handed to police, later found dead
  • Sep 2010: Freed hundreds of prisoners from jail
  • Dec 2010: Bombed Jos, killing 80; blamed for New Year's Eve attack on Abuja barracks
  • 2010-2011: Dozens killed in Maiduguri shootings
  • Nov 2011: Co-ordinated bomb and gun attacks in Yobe and Borno states
  • Dec 2011: Series of bomb attacks on Christmas Day kills dozens

In Damaturu, in the north-east, there were two explosions.

One was a suicide car bomb attack on a convoy of the State Security Service.

BBC correspondents say four people were killed there, including the suicide bomber.

There was also an explosion in the nearby town of Gadaka.

Damaturu and Gadaka are both in Yobe state, which has been the epicentre of violence between security forces and Boko Haram militants.

More than 60 people have died in fighting there this week.

A spokesman for Boko Haram, Abul-Qaqa, told local media it carried out the bomb attacks.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden", wants the imposition of Sharia law.

The group carried out an August 2011 suicide attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja, in which more than 20 people were killed.

It was also responsible for a string of bomb blasts in Jos on Christmas Eve 2010.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two


  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.