On Friday, a gunman opened fire at a Christmas carol celebration, killing 4 people and injuring 8 others. The attack in Nindem — a village in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna — cast a pall on a historic Christmas celebration recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The attack may be connected to Boko Haram, a Nigerian Islamist group that has formally allied itself with the Islamic State (ISIS).
“Nobody should be allowed to truncate the right of citizens to live in peace and enjoy safety, or thwart their legitimate expectations of celebrating Christmas and the New Year in peace,” Samuel Aruwan, senior special assistant on media and publicity to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, said in a statement on Sunday.
The attack took place while the village took part in the 2017 Akwa Ibom State Christmas Carol Festival on Friday. About 10 million people from over 45 countries across the world were expected to follow the festival, which made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2014 for being the largest choir ever assembled for a Christmas carol, with 30,000 participants.
The 2016 edition had more than 9 million people from 38 countries who logged on to the program’s official website and Twitter handle in the first four hours of the event, according to the state’s commissioner for information and strategy.
“The government condemns this incident, and calls on all stakeholders to help uphold peace by working to avoid escalation and by supporting the security forces,” Aruwan added. He said the office of the governor “commiserates with the families of the victims in this sad moment.”
“It is important that all communities stand firm against any threat to peace, and reject those who might want to reprise the terrible events of December 2016,” the spokesman said.
This statement referred to two separate attacks last year. On December 9, two young female suicide bombers — almost certainly connected to Boko Haram — blew themselves up in a market in Maiduguri, a city in northern Nigeria. They killed 56 people. On Christmas Day, Boko Haram gunman killed at least 14 people in an attack on a northeastern village, burning the village down as they left. “Not a single house was spared in the arson,” one witness said.
ISIS terrorists have carried out what amounts to a global war on Christmas. Authorities said that the New York City pipe bomber, Akayed Ullah (inspired and claimed by ISIS), targeted the site where he detonated his explosive device because it was near a Christmas poster. He also said he was inspired by ISIS attacks on Christmas markets in Europe.
Another ISIS-inspired terrorist launched a truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market last year. Tunisian ISIS terrorist Anis Amri murdered 12 people at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market.
Last month, German police arrested six Syrian nationals suspected of having fought with ISIS — and allegedly connected with a terror plot against another Christmas market in Germany. They were later released. Truck attacks have led to the erection of barricades and security in various cities across Europe.
Earlier this month, the French city of Lyon cancelled its world-famous Christmas market after security costs skyrocketed to € 20,000 — a price the city could not afford.
Last year, Islamic State social media accounts released a list of United States churches to attack on Christmas. In light of recent attacks, Christians need to be vigilant as they worship during this holiday season. Attacks from Boko Haram in Nigeria and from ISIS across the world may be planned for Christmas and New Year’s.