The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) confirmed on Tuesday that a total of 21 people were killed while 45 others were injured this past Sunday in a car bomb attack on a church, with military officers opening fire on angry protesters at the scene causing more casualties.
"As at press time, 20 people have been confirmed dead, out of which 12 died as a result of the bomb blast while eight were shot dead by the military who went to the blast site in order to maintain law and order. A total number of 45 persons have confirmed wounded out of which 25 were wounded by bomb blast and 20 sustained various degrees of injuries from gun shot from the military," state Chairman of CAN, the Rev. Lawi Pokti, said at a press conference in Bauchi, Nigeria. Subsequent reports revealed that the death toll had risen to 21.
Following the attacks, Nigeria's Christian bishops pronounced a curse on the actions of terrorist group Boko Haram, believed to have carried out the attacks, and their supporters in the country.
"We serve a God of vengeance who has vowed to avenge the saints. He will descend his instrument of death on the camp of the enemy. We invoke the vengeance of God on the radical Islamic group Boko Haram and their sponsors," declared Bishop David Oyedepo.
"We decree that this week is a week of vengeance and God will unleash his instrument of death on their camp. This month is a month of vengeance and so we release arrows of humiliating deaths on them."
Boko Haram has been waging war against Nigeria's Christians and carrying out deadly bombings and shootings at churches for well over a year.
"We thank God for giving us victory. We successfully carried out a suicide bombing on a church at Yelwa in Bauchi state," said Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa on Monday in an emailed statement, Reuters reported.
The Nigerian government has called for peace between Muslims and Christians and vowed to do all it can to stop Boko Haram, allAfrica.com reported, but the latest attacks, which occurred at the Living Faith Church Worldwide and the Harvest Field Church in Yelwa area of Bauchi State, have shown that the terrorist group is not willing to back down from its mission of eliminating Christians.
The Rev. Lawi Pokti said in the press conference that he is grateful for any help the government can give Christians who are desperately seeking protection, yet criticized security officers who clashed with angry protestors at the bomb site.
"We declare that the site of the bomb blast, the security agents have no moral, ethical and empirical justification to open fire on the women, youths and children who came out to mourn their loved ones. We see this act as extra judicial killing and worthy of remorse by the Nigerian Army," Pokti said.
Governor Malam Isa Yuguda declared on Monday following the attacks that it was time for Nigeria to stand up and fight the terrorists regardless of their numbers. He also described the attacks as a "dastardly act, an unprecedented tragedy, a callous and animalistic behavior that must be condemned in its totality and I hereby condemn it in its entirety."