For the second year in a row, Muslim extremists in Nigeria attacked Christians in Jos on Christmas, killing the police officer assigned to guard the church. One of the church members is the cousin of our primary contact on Nigerian human rights issues. There were no fatalities among the congregation but the police officer assigned to guard the church was shot and killed by the terrorists.
According to eye-witness accounts, the co-ordinated attackers had two teams. The first waded a gully at the rear of the church to plant the bombs, while the second team waited in front of the church with guns. Recent bombings in Jos used bombs of such low quality that they caused very few deaths. In fact in one recent instance the bomb failed to go off at all. The attackers apparently planned to increase their body count by using the explosion to flush the congregation out where the second team would be waiting for them.
Our sources indicate that the plan went awry when the police officer noticed the second team too soon. Our contact’s cousin “Gale” (Alias used for safety) dropped to floor as the gun fire began. While the police officer was gunned down, officers stationed at a security checkpoint near the church heard the shots and rushed to the scene. Gale and the rest of the congregation hid in the church vestry while the cops and the ambushers exchanged fire. Although the first bomb went off before the security personnel forced the attackers to flee, four of the attackers were captured and the other bombs were disarmed.
Eventually the guns went silent and Gale picked herself up and dusted off the shrapnel to find that every member of of the congregation had survived. The quick and decisive response of the security forces as well as the bravery of the police officer saved those who came to celebrate the Lord’s birth.
Gale’s cousin in the US who has worked closely with Jubilee says, “with every passing day, this horror has gotten closer and closer to home. I am glad I have been committed to this before it directly affected my family. For every Christian, our motto should be “there but for the mercy of God, go I.” I am so grateful to Jubilee campaign for their support for freedom, justice and safety for Christians in Nigeria and around the world.”
Jubilee hails the effective response of the police force to this attack. While we grieve for the loss of the police officer, this incident proves that an effective response by security forces can minimize the damage of terrorist attacks. Jubilee will closely monitor this situation to ensure that effective prosecutions necessary to finally stamp out these terrorists actually take place. The people of Nigeria need justice and those behind what the White House has called “senseless attacks” must be unveiled. We will keep you updated as we follow up on this incident.