West & Central Africa

Boko Haram mosque attack kills 50

A bomb blast by a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber has killed over 50 people during early morning prayers, Tuesday, 21 November, at the Madina mosque at Unguwar Shuwa, in Mubi, about 180 kilometres (about 120 miles) from Yola, the Adamawa state capital.

Abubakar Sule, who lives near the mosque, said, “The roof was blown off” from the explosion. People near the mosque said the prayer was mid-way when the bomber, who was obviously in the congregation, detonated his explosives. “This is obviously the work of Boko Haram,” Sule said.

Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar confirmed the death of 50 people. “It was a (suicide) bomber who mingled with worshippers. He entered the mosque along with other worshippers for the morning prayers. It was when the prayers were on that he set off his explosives.”

Adamawa State Information Commissioner, Ahmad Ibrahim Sajoh, talking to newsmen, said: “There are many body parts all over the place in the mosque. There are many severely injured that may not make it.”

He warned that the death toll may rise: “We have mobilised medical personnel and ambulances to help. Madakin Mubi (local community leader) has also gone to mobilize for the donation of blood.”

The bomb blast is one the few attacks that have specifically targeted large numbers of Muslims. Boko Haram have mostly focussed on attacking churches and Christian communities. This is also the biggest attack in Adamawa state since December 2016, when two female suicide bombers killed 45 people at a market in a Madagali a border town with Borno state.

Mubi, a town that has a large population of Christians both within the town and suburbs, has been the target for Boko Haram attacks in its effort to expand its caliphate. In October 2012, over 40 people were killed, in the Kabang village, when Boko Haram attacked a student hostel. In June 2014, over 40 football fans, watching an on-going match were killed, including women and children, area of the town and the terrorist group took over Mubi town in late 2014 and changed its name to Madinatul Islam; “City of Islam.”

A church leader in Mubi, whose name is withheld for security reasons, said in a telephone interview with Global Christian News: “The attack in Mubi has targeted predominantly Christians, who had to flee Mubi. Why Boko Haram chose to attack a mosque is a wonder to many of us. It is strangely slightly out of character. I am not saying that mosques have not been attacked by Boko Haram but at this scale, is not the usual thing. We wait to hear how Boko Haram leader will eventually explain this. He always sends out videos online.”

The church leader continued: “Despite claims by military of its destruction of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram has proven, beyond doubt that it is still active and deadly. Over 30 have been killed by the jihadist in the last month alone.”

Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism specialist at the Modern Security Consulting Group in Berlin, said“Boko Haram remains an extremely potent and dangerous organisation” which was far from being “on the back foot”, as the military has claimed.

Reports from Borno state say Boko Haram beheaded six farmers at Dimge plantation in the Mafa local government area of Borno state on Sunday 19th November, while the farmers worked on their farms, a witness, Jiddah Ahmad, told a News Agency of Nigeria in Jere town, near Maiduguri. Ahmad said Boko Haram abducted seven farmers and killed six of them in a nearby bush. Ahmad, said his elder brother is one of the slain farmers.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

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