Suicide bombers hit Jos church | Bomber, accomplice, worshipper, baby killed, 38 injured


 •Four killed in reprisal attack
 •Jonathan flays bombing, retaliation
 From MARIAM ALESINLOYE AGBOOLA, Jos and JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
The Auditorium of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) Headquarters bombed in Jos, Plateau State, Sunday.

Call it God’s intervention; a massacre was yesterday averted during service when Boko Haram stormed a church premises in Jos, Plateau State.
 But a worshipper, a baby, the bomber and his accomplice were killed. Four people also lost their lives in the reprisal attack.

 Recall that Boko Haram owned up to the death of 45 parishioners when it attacked St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State on Christmas Day last year.

 On the injured list are the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Hiljab Abraham and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Ezekiel Gomos. The bombers’ target is Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) headquarters in the state capital.
 Governor Jonah Jang was said to be a member of the church, but doesn’t worship there regularly because of official engagements.
 Claiming responsibility for yesterday’s bombing, Boko Haram said: “We carried out the attack on COCIN in Jos today and we did what we did as part of our resolve to avenge the killings and dehumanization of Muslims in Jos in the last 10 years,” spokesman Abul Qaqa, told reporters in a conference call.

 Qaqa said that that particular church had not been targeted for any reason. “We attacked simply because it’s a church and we can decide to attack any other church.
 “We have just started,” he added.
 Three suicide bombers had driven into the church with explosives-laden Volkswagen Jetta car, but were prevented from getting into the service area.
 The bomb, however, went off at the church premises, killing a member of the church and the suicide bomber instantly and destroying about 30 vehicles.

 At least, 38 other members including Mr. Abraham and former SSG and Chief Executive of Jos Business School, Mr. Gomos were injured in the incident at the magnificent church complex still under reconstruction. A baby, who was among those rushed to the Plateau Specialist Hospital, died shortly after.
 Daily Sun learnt that at about 7:30 when the first service of the day was going on, the Jetta car with two occupants was allowed into the compound despite the tight security around the church premises. The securityman, who opened the gate, was suspected to be a fake soldier.

 Immediately the car got in, it headed for the auditorium of the church where the service was going on at the open ground floor of the church complex being constructed. When other securitymen at the gate noticed the unusual movement into the church premises, a motorcyclist sped in to block it from getting to where the service was going on.
 It was just then that the bomb in the vehicle exploded ; killing the suicide bomber and a lady member of the church instantly. The body of one of the bombers was dismembered and thrown into different directions. It was learnt that one other member of the gang was trying to escape death, but was shot and killed instantly.
 The blast, which blew off the suicide bombers’ vehicle immediately, also affected most of the cars parked at the premises. The blast also destroyed the part of the church’s fence and most houses close to the church felt the impact of the blast.

 Securitymen, who rushed to the scene immediately after the explosion, cordoned off the premises, preventing movement on the Fidelis Tapgun Road, stretching from Central Bank to Hill Station roundabout except for vehicles taking victims to the hospital.

 The suspected fake soldier, who opened the gate, was seized by men at the gate and beaten mercilessly. It took the intervention of men of the Special Task Force (STF) to prevent him from being killed.
 Meanwhile, in a reprisal attack, at least four people were killed. A water vendor and commercial motorcyclist were lynched at the Hill Station roundabout and two others killed at the Abattoir area of Jos. Motorcycle spare parts shops on Bank Road, not too far from the church, were all burnt down by the mob.

 President of COCIN, Dr. Soja Bewarang, who was to travel to Karu to commission a branch, returned immediately. He was seen with his secretary, weeping and was being consoled by some of the onlookers.
 Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday expressed sadness over the blast and the “mindless” reprisal.
 In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President, while condoling with the victims of the odious acts, assured that “those who seek to divide us by fear and terror will not succeed”.
 “The indiscriminate bombing of Christians and Muslims is a threat to all peace-loving Nigerians”, he said.
 After inspecting the damages, Governor Jang, who is also one of the prominent worshippers at the church, said that he is not surprised by the attack because it is where he worships; assuring that everything is being done to unravel the culprits.

 Meanwhile, vehicles passing through Jos from both the Barakin Ladi axis, the Tudun Filani axis from Bauchi and Forest area from Abuja were thoroughly searched by the STF operatives to ensure they do not enter with explosives. Motorists were asked to alight from their vehicles which were thoroughly searched.
 A statement issued by the Media/Information Officer of the STF, Captain Mdahyelya Markus, confirmed that there was an explosion at the headquarters of COCIN near the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
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