In Nigeria, three recent militant attacks indicates that President Goodluck Jonathan's declaration of a state of emergency has done little to temper the violence of Islamic rebel group Boko Haram.0
On Thursday night, gunmen stormed into a church in the city of Gombe, the capital of the northeastern Gombe state, shooting at least eight people dead and wounding another 20.
Many tried to run but were gunned down, eyewitness Konson Danladi told CNN. I was just outside the church when the men came and started shooting and I ran.
“The attackers started shooting sporadically. They shot through the window of the church, and many people were killed including my wife,” the church's pastor, Johnson Jauro, told Nigeria's PM News.
The attack occurred during a revival meeting. Police have not confirmed that the attack was committed by Boko Haram, but the details of the incident have placed the blame on the insurgents' shoulders.
In the past year, Boko Haram, whose name translates to Western education is a sin, has launched a bloody campaign to turn Nigeria into an Islamic country held under sharia law. In this quest, the rebels have attacked civilians in cafes, invaded villages, bombed government offices and threatened Jonathan, the country's Christian president.
In general, Nigeria is religiously split between the north and south, and 12 northern states are already governed by sharia. While most of the group's attacks occur in the north, they have ventured south in recent months.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the Christmas day bombings that killed 49 people in four churches around Abuja, the countries capital.
The church-goers targeted on Thursday are mostly Iboe people, Christians from the south of Nigeria. Gombe is in the north and borders Borno, the state where the majority of Boko Haram attacks have occurred in the past. On Thursday, bombing in Borno's Maiduguri and Yobe State's Damaturu killed two people.
A third attack occurred on Friday in the rural town of Mubi in Adamawa state. Police are saying that Boko Haram opened fire in a town hall where Iboe had gathered for a meeting, killing at least 20, according to The Associated Press.
The attacks could be seen as deadly early warnings of a threat made by Boko Haram earlier this week. They gave southerners living in northern Nigeria a three-day ultimatum to move away for face the consequences, PM News reported.
After the Christmas bombings, President Jonathan called a state of emergency in 15 areas. Again deploying his Joint Task Force, Jonathan hopes to crush Boko Haram by force. But the strategy has yet to make any significant differences in the constant turmoil in the country, and now some, including Boko Haram itself, fear that Christians will begin to retaliate.
“We wish to call on our fellow Muslims to come back to the north because we have evidence that they would be attacked, spokesperson Abul Qaqa said this week.
An Arabic school in the south of Nigeria was attacked last week and two people were injured.