The Monday attacks on Saint Theresa, a Catholic Church in Funtua, and the Celestial Church of Christ at Tudun Malamai, has shaken the communities in both towns. It is the aftermath of what some are calling a random act of violence.
Details are sketchy, but what is known is that several people were injured at both locations. It began at about noon on Monday when Saint Theresa was targeted. Eyewitnesses told SaharaReporters that an armed gang barged-in to the Saint Theresa church compound, and interrupted services. Several attendees were attacked physically, and nearly all of the church property was removed outside the building, smashed, and burned.
It is not clear if any shots were fired, but the well armed gang did intimidate attendees, and church staff during the rampage.
On-lookers milling about and outside the church building during the noontime attack were horrified.
Sources tell SaharaReporters that the same action occurred at the Celestial Church of Christ at Tudun Malamai some time later.
According to the spokesman of the Katsina State command of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Aliyu Jamilu, the mixed gang of youth and men went on rampage over an alleged defamation of the Prophet Muhammad. “A corp member serving with a secondary school, in setting exams questions, made some reference to Muhammad and Amina. These youths felt he was trying to defame Prophet Muhammad and so went on rampage,” he said.
At Press time no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. For officials connected with Saint Theresa it was not the first time church officials have witnessed attacks on their building. The first attack on that church occurred on March 11, 1987, followed by a post-election riot on April 18, 2011.
Aliyu Jamilu, the Civil Defense Spokesman also confirmed that part of a secondary school, Ideal Secondary School, where the Corps Member teaches, was also set on fire.
Tensions remain high in Funtua town, as a result of the attacks. SaharaReporters learned that security personnel, including military troop personnel, were deployed to restore order.
Sources close to Kelvin Obineche, the Parish Priest, and Lemark Peter, the assistant Parish Priest at Saint Theresa, find the event that befell their church perplexing. Sadly and ironically, the wreckage in the aftermath of the violence comes just two weeks after they had completed the renovation of the damage visited on the church from 2011.