Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Nigeria Court Sentences Militant to Life for Christmas Bombing

A court in Nigeria has sentenced the one of the alleged planners of the 2011 Christmas Day attack on a Catholic Church to life in prison.

The court in Abuja found Kabiru Sokoto guilty of facilitating a series of terrorist attacks.

It said Sokoto, also known as Kabiru Umar, knew in advance that the militant group Boko Haram would bomb St. Teresa's church outside of Abuja in 2011. That attack killed 44 people and left another 50 injured.

According to the court, prosecutors proved that Sokoto failed to warn authorities the bombing would happen.

Sokoto was found guilty of organizing several other attacks, including bombings in northern Sokoto state.

The militant is allegedly a senior member of the Islamist group, Boko Haram. The group is fighting for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, and is blamed for thousands of deaths since it began its uprising in 2009.

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for many attacks in Nigeria, including several church bombings and the bombing of a United Nations building.

The violence prompted the Nigerian government to declare a state of emergency in three northeastern states this year and send additional soldiers to fight the group. Human rights groups have accused the military of using indiscriminate and heavy-handed violence in its crackdown.

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