ROME — The newest cardinal from Nigeria has condemned a deadly terrorist attack on a Protestant church at a local military base, lamenting the lack of security in the country.
“Once again, a great tragedy has taken place; but, in this case, the circumstances are particularly worrisome,” Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja told Aid to the Church in Need in Rome Nov. 26.
“This attack took place within one of the highest military establishments in Nigeria, surely one of the most secure premises you can think of,” he added.
“It seems that this kind of attack could happen anywhere.”
On Sunday, two suicide bombers detonated two explosives-laden vehicles at St. Andrew's Protestant Church inside the Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Jaji in the central northern state of Kaduna.
One of the vehicles, a bus, was driven into the wall of the church and exploded but caused no injuries.
After onlookers gathered at the site of the explosion, a second more powerful blast detonated, killing at least 30 and wounding 45.
The military college is one of the country's most important, The Associated Press says.
The Islamist group Boko Haram, which has taken credit for previous attacks on churches, has initially denied responsibility for the attack.
The repeated attacks have prompted criticism of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his government.
Cardinal Onaiyekan, whom Pope Benedict XVI made a cardinal on Nov. 24, said the Sunday attack raised many questions.
He wondered whether lax security allowed the attackers access to the site.
“The government is under pressure to produce results. There is a lot of activity going on but not many results,” the cardinal told Aid to the Church in Need. “Let us hope this particular incident will be a wake-up call to the government that they need to do more than what they are doing at the moment.”
The cardinal has spoken with Muslim leaders about the attack. Upon his return from Rome, he intends to meet with government officials to discuss the security situation.
An early morning Monday attack on a major police station freed about 30 inmates, though about 25 were recaptured. The station’s inmates included members of Boko Haram.
The Islamist group has targeted government buildings, markets, churches and mosques.
On Oct. 28, a Boko Haram bomb attack killed five and seriously injured 134 during Sunday Mass at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna.
In March, a spokesman for the group declared “a war on Christians” and said Boko Haram wanted to “eradicate Christians” from parts of Nigeria.
The group was responsible for 620 deaths in the first six months of 2012 and over 400 in 2011.
Christian leaders have lamented the deaths while also urging Christians and others not to commit reprisals.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, told a British parliamentary briefing in October that Christian pastors have reached “a state of near desperation, seeing children, women, children and men bombed out of existence.”
Said Archbishop Kaigama, “That these terrorists can easily get away with horrible acts of criminality against innocent people is very disturbing.”