Pope calls for end to violence in Nigeria
Attacks in Nigeria leave many dead STORY HIGHLIGHTS NEW: The Red Cross says more than 100 people have died The pope made the remarks during his Angelus prayer An outbreak of gun and bomb attacks targeted police stations and mosques Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) —
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called for an end to violence in Nigeria, after an outbreak of bomb and gun attacks left more than 100 people dead. “I am following with apprehension the tragic episodes that have taken place in Nigeria over the last days,” the pontiff said during his weekly Sunday Angelus prayer. “While I pray for the victims, I invite an end to the violence, which doesn’t resolve the problems but increase them, sowing hatred and divisions even amongst the faithful.”
The attacks targeted police stations, mosques and churches in northeastern Nigeria, the Red Cross said. Scores of people, potentially more than 100, were injured in a three-hour rampage in the Yobe state city of Damaturu, according to Ibrahim Bulama of the Red Cross. More than 100 people died in what he described as “a very bad scene.” Bulama initially said 63 people died, but revised the death toll upward Sunday. Gunmen first attacked the police headquarters and the anti-terror office before moving to churches and mosques, he said. Most of the casualties were police officers. In Potiskum, also located in Yobe state, gunmen attacked a book shop near the police station, killing two and injuring five, the Red Cross said.
The Friday attacks came the same day that suicide bombers suspected of belonging to a militant Islamist group targeted a military base in nearby Maiduguri. Three suicide bombers drove a stolen black SUV toward a Joint Task Force headquarters, but could not get through the gate, military spokesman Lt. Col. Hassan Mohammed said. The blast damaged the roofs and walls of the base. Mohammed said two other simultaneous explosions took place at other military facilities. An unspecified number of Nigerian soldiers suffered injuries.
Saturday evening, a suicide bomber launched another attack in Maiduguri, Mohammed said. No casualties were reported except for the bomber. He blamed the militant group Boko Haram for the attacks. Loosely translated, the group’s name means “Western education is sinful.” It wants to establish a state based on Sharia, or Islamic law, in northern Nigeria. The Red Cross official said Boko Haram is suspected in the Damaturu attack as well. CNN’s Hada Messia in Rome contributed to this report.