A group of Muslim youths on Friday attacked worshipers at Saint Philip Catholic Church in Baki Ikun along Kaduna Road in Suleja, near Nigeria’s capital of Abuja. The Muslim youngsters assaulted parishioners, inflicting varying degrees of bodily injuries on many.
A police source as well as some of the Christian worshipers disclosed that the attacks occurred on Friday evening when hundreds of Muslim fanatics descended on the church and wreaked havoc on the church building, vehicles and parishioners. The attackers dispersed the parishioners, claiming that Christians do not have the right to worship on Friday.
“We were praying inside the church when some Muslim youths with dangerous weapons besieged us from nowhere, beating everyone in sight, including security guards attached to the church,” one of the victims told our correspondent.
Another eyewitness, who gave his name as Emmanuel, told a correspondent of SaharaReporters that the attackers destroyed property both inside and outside the church. “The Muslim attackers kept shouting that it is only Muslims that have the right to pray on Friday. That was the reason they gave for attacking us,” he said.
SaharaReporters made several efforts to reach the parish priest, Reverend Father Gobep Sylvester, without success.
Our correspondent reported that a combined team of armed policemen and soldiers had been deployed to the area where the church is located to maintain law and order.
The attack came a week after suspected Muslim fanatics murdered Eunice Olawale, a female pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The murder victim, who was married, was ambushed as she returned from her morning evangelization in the Kubwa area of Abuja.
Her murder has triggered growing religious and ethnic tension in Abuja and its surrounding areas. Some Christian leaders have accused President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammadu Bello, of a conspiracy of silence, adding that such official nonchalance was aggravating the sense of tension.
“For President Muhammadu Buhari and FCT Minister Muhammadu Bello to ignore the barbaric attacks on us [Christians] in Abuja is a dangerous signal. Their silence gives us the impression that they don’t care what happens to us. But they should be aware that Christians are capable of defending themselves if the government does not want to do the right thing,” one pastor told our correspondent.