Sunday, December 25, 2011

There is no Christmas celebration in Nigeria (UPDATED)

1st UPDATE: 6:11 p.m. EST: The Associated Press reports that the death toll from the coordinated bombings in Nigeria has increased.
Authorities acknowledged they could not bring enough emergency medical personnel to care for the wounded outside St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla near Nigeria's capital. Elsewhere, a bomb exploded amid gunfire in the central Nigeria city of Jos and a suicide car bomber attacked the military in the nation's northeast as part of an apparently coordinated assault by the sect known as Boko Haram.
The Christmas Day violence, denounced by world leaders and the Vatican, shows the threat of the widening insurrection posed by Boko Haram against Nigeria's weak central government. Despite a recent paramilitary crackdown against the sect in the oil-rich nation, it appears that Africa's most populous nation remains unable to stop the threat.
Reuters notes the bitter irony in the Vatican's anger; earlier in the day the Pope used his traditional Christmas message to call for peace in Syria, where the military has unleashed its power on the people. 

ORIGINAL POST: On one of the most important days for Christians around the world, Nigerians have little to celebrate.

TIME magazine reports on a series of bombings that has killed dozens of people.
Nigeria's Christmas from hell began around 7.30 a.m at St. Theresa's church in Madalla, a suburb of the capital Abuja, just as worshippers spilled outside from the popular service. "A man with a motorbike dropped a bag just outside the church," a member of St. Theresa's told TIME. "One of our officials went to check what was in the bag and at the same time he reached it, that was when there was an explosion. Everybody started running. You can imagine how many people were running around. We thought the explosion was from one car that was parked outside but we now discover it was actually the bag that my colleague, went to check."
Reuters adds that an Islamist group has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks.
Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a wave of Christmas day bombings on Sunday, including an attack on a Catholic church that killed at least 25 people.
Nigerian government forces and Boko Haram militants have been fighting for several days.

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