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Debris from a recent suicide bombing in Nigeria.

Churches celebrating Easter services were the targets of a suicide bomber who killed at least 38 people on April 8 in Kaduna city in northern Nigeria. Security personnel at one of the church buildings blocked the bomber, believed to belong to the Boko Haram Islamic sect, who then detonated his explosives in the street. Dozens of people were injured in addition to those killed. The bombs damaged the buildings of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Good News church and the All Nations Christian Assembly, besides blasting off roofs from homes and hotels and destroying vehicles. Located on the same street, Gwari Road, are the Redeemed Christian Church of God and an Assemblies of God church.

Luka Binniyat, a Christian resident of the city, told Compass that law enforcement agents believed the ECWA church was the primary target. "Richard Markus, a detective, mentioned that the bomber's main target was the ECWA Good News church a few metres from the scene of the bomb blast," Binniyat said. "He tried forcing his way past, but the security man stood in between him and the blockade. He even pushed him a ways before some policemen manning the gate of the church rushed down to the scene."

Boko Haram has targeted state offices, law enforcement sites and some moderate mosques in its effort to destabilize the government and impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria, but Kaduna resident Stanley Yakubu said that Christians are one of its main targets. "The truth is that there is a deliberate effort to silence or eliminate the Christians in the north," he said.

Please pray for those who are grieving. Pray that, as sufferings overflow, their comfort in Christ will be more than enough for them (2 Corinthians 1:5). Pray God will provide medical assistance to the injured and give them the grace to overcome their physical and emotional afflictions. Pray for members of Boko Haram; may the Holy Spirit convict them of sin and guilt and bring them to full repentance.

For more information on persecution in Nigeria, go to the Nigeria Country Report.