You might be aware that violence between Muslims and Christians has flared up again in Nigeria.
Horrific stories of ruthless killings on the streets of Jos in northern Nigeria are emerging. At least one church pastor was shot dead, along with three members of his household and an Augustinian monastery attacked, the abbot narrowly escaping death after a molotov cocktail was thrown into his room. The Church Times and The Economist have reports, with the latter reporting that mosques were also burned down. On Thursday I spoke to the Bishop of Jos, Dr Benjamin Kwashi. According to his eyewitness report, the violence was directed solely against Christians, with some Muslims shot by armed forces only when they broke curfew. Estimates vary, but it seems about 400 people might have been killed. While not lessening the horror of that atrocity, this is about twice the number killed in Mumbai.
Some pictures on the Jos diocesan website give an idea of the bleak conditions there now.
Dr Kwashi insisted the whole thing had been long in the planning and was not a spontaneous response to the elections, as is claimed.
‘I was woken up at about two in the morning last Friday morning. The roads coming into Jos and going out of Jos had been blocked by Muslim youths chanting Allahu Akbar. Other Muslim youths inside the town were by now burning churches and killing Christians. We have not had the exact figure of those killed.’
Those shot dead included the pastor of Cocin church in Nawarawa, along with three members of his household.
The Bishop said it was worse than similar riots in 2001, because then the attacks were with stones and knives and people could run away. This time, there was no running away. People who tried to flee were gunned down.
You just do not get this kind of crisis over an election,’ said Bishop Kwashi. ‘The gun shots, the military uniforms and police uniforms, the amount of deaths and killings and destruction, whole groups of Christians shot down, Christian quarters completely burned down, razed to the ground. All the burnings took place at the same time. The same time. People killed. Women and children shot dead.’