In the latest incident, Christian youths attacked Muslims gathering to celebrate the last day of Ramadan on Aug. 29 in Jos city. At least 13 people were killed, property destroyed and cars burned. This occurred after a radical Islamic group carried out a suicide car bomb attack at the U.N. complex on Aug. 26, leaving 23 people dead and several others injured.
“We urge the relevant authorities to decisively act to permanently bring this trend to an end … to save precious lives and hard-earned properties,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos diocese, quoted in media reports on Aug. 30. Kaigama serves in the region between Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.
The region has been a flash point for ethnic and sectarian tensions between the two faiths in a country where about half the estimated 155 million people are Muslim and nearly that many are Christian.
While condemning the U.N. bomb attack as a “mindless assault on world peace and unity,” Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, urged better security to tackle the growing threat of terrorism.
“It is unthinkable that a group of persons … will deliberately set out to unleash terror and mayhem … in some parts of the country without restraint,” Oritsejafor said in an Aug 27 statement.
Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and spiritual leader of all Nigerian Muslims, described the attacks as abominable acts under Islam and urged the government to step up measures to stop any future occurrences.
“We seriously condemn this evil act just as we console the families of those who lost their loved ones and commiserate with those who lost their property as a result of the attack,” the Sultan told the Nigerian Tribune. He also appealed to Muslims to guard against being used as “tools” for achieving “selfish goals.”
Global religious leaders extended sympathies to the U.N. The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, noted that many of the victims had devoted their lives to a mission of helping others.
Boko Haram, a radical Muslim group, claimed responsibility for the attack at the U.N. headquarters. The group which translates into “western education is a sin,” opposes what it calls the “westernization of Nigeria” and demands the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law). Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, has promised to control the violence.