Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos believes the latest attacks are "destroying the hope of a united Nigeria."

Nigerian bishops deplore fatal attacks in North by Islamic group

By  Sarah Delaney, Catholic News Service
  • January 23, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Two Nigerian bishops deplored bloody attacks in a northern city by a radical Islamist group, warning of deep social divisions and displaced populations, the Vatican missionary news agency Fides reported.

"They are destroying the hope of a united Nigeria," said Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos, referring to simultaneous attacks on government buildings by the extremist sect known as Boko Haram, Jan. 20 in the city of Kano, according to Fides.

News reports said that more than 150 people, most of them Muslims, are believed dead following the attacks, the latest in a series by the radical organization, which seeks to impose Islamic law in the country's Muslim-majority North.

"Kano is still in shock," Bishop John Namaza Niyiring of Kano, Nigeria's second-largest city, told Fides. "The coordinated series of attacks in different parts of the city lasted about three hours."

Bishop Niyiring told Fides that the attackers had exploded bombs in various government and law-enforcement buildings, and subsequently shot randomly at people nearby. Some church buildings were damaged, but no priests or religious were reported among victims of the violence, he said.

"But we have news that some of our parishioners are among the victims," the bishop said.

Many southern Nigerians living in the North were heading home, while northerners resident in the south of the country were returning to their places of origin, "for fear of reprisals," Archbishop Kaigama told Fides.

In a letter to journalists reported by the Associated Press, the group said the attacks were retribution for the arrests and killings of some of its members.

The name Boko Haram, in the Hausa language, means "Western education is sacrilege."

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