The eventual retaliatory fight back carried out by Christian youths have created a new dimension to recent wave of attacks in the north part of Nigeria.
Christian communities are vowing that henceforth, attacks by the dreaded Boko Haram would be revenged in a tit-for-tat religious stand-off.
Following the attacks at the weekend, youths armed with cutlasses and knives pounced on Mosques to attack inmates and also pounced on suspected Islamic faithfuls spilling their blood.
Meanwhile, a 24-hour curfew had been imposed in the state to prevent further attacks and retaliatory attacks. President Goodluck Jonathan in his response, expressed sadness over the attacks.
Senate President, David Mark and House of Representatives Speaker, Mr Aminu Tambuwal, have condemned the attacks and called for calm.
Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, said that only 16 persons were killed in the attacks. Vanguard gathered that the first attack was at a Children Sunday School at ECWA Church, Wusasa, Zaria, which left the sunday school teacher, and 10 children dead. Four children playing outside the church were among the first victims of the blasts at the church.
A witness said that five men ran up to the church and hurled home-made bombs through its open door. They were allegedly chased down and reportedly beaten to death. Police could not confirm this.
At Christ the King Catholic Cathedral, Zaria, also attacked by a suicide bomber, 11 worshipers were killed, narrated a member of the church, who escaped through the window. Malachy Achu, a dentist, a member of the church, said those injured in the blast could not be less than 40.
Though official figures by the police and State Emergency Management Agency put the death toll at 34 and the wounded 150 persons, unofficial account from members of the affected Zaria and Kaduna churches that spoke to P.M.NEWS today put the figures at over 100 with more than 300 injured
Solomon Shendong , a member of the bombed ECWA Church, Wusasa, Zaria, revealed that 30 members of the church have been confirmed dead, while several others are still in critical condition at Anglican Church, Wusasa, and other hospitals in Zaria.
Mathew Ishaya , a member who claimed to have “escaped death by the whiskers,” informed P.M.NEWS that the bombers killed more than 20 members and over 60 were severely injured.
And at Shalom church, Kaduna, a church official disclosed that only a soldier, two private security guards and the bomber died.
According to the official, “no member of the church died except for one of our ushers that was injured.”
A source among a team of National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, evacuating the dead victims of the reprisal attacks at Sabon-Tasha, Nasarawa, Ungwar Romi, Goni-Gora, Trikania, Kudenda and other parts of the state told our correspondent that they had picked more that 80 corpses, most of them burnt.
However, normalcy has returned to Kaduna follwing the round-the-clock curfew imposed on the state yesterday after riots broke out in different parts of the metropolis.
Residents have been forced to remain indoors while soldiers and other security personnel are patrolling the streets.
The 24-hour curfew according to Senior Special to Kaduna Governor, Reuben Buhari will remain until there was a clear sign of some relative calm in the state.
Meanwhile, rescuers searched for bodies and hospitals struggled to find blood Monday after suicide attacks on three churches in Nigeria and subsequent rioting killed at least 45 and wounded more than 100, reports AFP.
“Many of them need surgery, but a shortage of blood is stalling treatment,” a Red Cross official in Kaduna said of the wounded on Monday.
“We’re still going about looking for more bodies in these neighbourhoods.”
Officials put the state — which last year saw rioting that left more than 600 people dead in the wake of presidential elections — under curfew for 24 hours.
“As of last night, around 10 p.m., the death toll stood at 45,” a rescue official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to issue death tolls.
“The death toll is expected to rise when we get updated.”
More than 100 people were injured in the day of violence, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
The first blast struck ECWA Goodnews Church in the Wusasa area of Zaria city early Sunday. The second explosion went off 10 minutes later at the Christ the King Catholic church in Zaria’s Sabongari area, a police statement said.
The third blast hit the Shalom Church in Kaduna city moments later.
A worshipper said he saw a bomber drive an explosives-packed car into the church building.
“Right away the car exploded and killed a soldier and two private security guards guarding the church,” Joseph Emmanuel told AFP.
The violent response by Christian youth mobs that followed the attacks was termed “a momentary breakdown of law and order,” in the police statement.
The police chief urged “criminal elements who have been carrying out campaigns of violence on innocent Nigerians and institutions to desist forthwith,” in the statement issued from Abuja.
He also said a massive deployment of forces had been ordered across “every nook and cranny of the state.”
One Kaduna resident said it was not safe to travel on Sunday.
“I cancelled my trip to Abuja because of the huge number of rioters that have taken over the roads,” the man told AFP.
The latest church blasts resembled those previously claimed by Boko Haram, responsible for more than 1,000 deaths since mid-2009.
The Islamist group has already this month claimed two attacks that struck churches during Sunday prayers, including a suicide blast in Bauchi state that left at least 15 dead.
Nigeria’s population of 160 million is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
Source: Vanguard, PM News