Boko Haram, which wants to impose Islamic sharia law across the country split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims, has escalated its tactics this year and increased the sophistication of the explosives it uses.
St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madala, an Abuja satellite town about 40 km from the centre of the capital, was packed out when the powerful bomb exploded during a Christmas service.
“We were in the church with my family when we heard the explosion. I just ran out,” Timothy Onyekwere told Reuters. “Now I don’t even know where my children or my wife are. I don’t know how many were killed but there were many dead.”
Boko Haram — which in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria means “Western education is sinful” — is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.