Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The death toll from Sunday's suicide bombing of a church in Yelwa, in Nigeria's northern Bauchi state, has risen to 21, with 45 injured, the private Vanguard newspaper reported Tuesday, quoting an official of the umbrella Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
According to the paper, the Bauchi state chair of CAN, Rev. Lawi Pokti said that while 12 were killed in the bombing of the Living Faith Church, the others were killed by soldiers drafted to the scene to help maintain law and order.
''A total number of 45 persons have been confirmed wounded, out of which 25 were wounded by the bomb blast and 20 sustained various degrees of injuries from gun shots from the military.
“We declare that the security has no moral, ethical and empirical justification to open fire on the women, youths and children who came out to mourn their loved ones. We see this act as extra-judicial killing and worthy of remorse by the Nigerian Army,” the CAN official said.
The military is yet to respond to the allegation, but it has consistently denied killing civilians in the predominantly-Muslim north, where soldiers have been deployed to battle the Islamic sect Boko Haram.
Boko Haram has meanwhile claimed responsibility for the church bombing, saying it was a revenge for the attacks launched by security agencies against its ''brethren''
In a statement issued by sect spokesman Abul Qaga in its home base of Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, Boko Haram accused the security agencies of giving President Goodluck Jonathan wrong information on the incessant clashes between them and the sect members.
It also repeated its earlier warning to the media to stop misrepresenting the sect or face attacks
“Take for example, the attack they launched on our brethren in Ja’in area in Kano State weeks back. The fact is that only three men were inside the house together with their wives and then their weapons.Unfortunately, the soldiers stormed the area with over 40 vehicles, including armoured tanks and surrounded the house in the dead of the night.
“There was endless gun duel between our men and the soldiers but none of our men was killed or arrested. They only succeeded in arresting women because our warriors had escaped after killing many security operatives. But the media, which we believed connived with the security agencies and the government, went ahead to publish the opposite which ended up misleading the public.”
-0- PANA SEG 5June2012