Gunmen kill 19 in Nigerian church


Gunmen have opened fire on an evangelical church during a service in central Nigeria, killing the pastor and at least 18 worshippers while injuring several others, officials said Tuesday. Kogi state, southwest of the capital Abuja and the scene of the latest violence, has not been hit particularly hard by the Islamists, although members of the group are believed to have come from the ethnically diverse area. In mid-July, a bomb went off near another church in Okene, but caused no casualties, while in April, the JTF said it had discovered a Boko Haram bomb making factory in Kogi, in the town of Ogaminana. The radical Islamist group Boko Haram, responsible for hundreds of deaths across north and central Nigeria this year, have repeatedly targeted Christians during worship in a series of gun and suicide bomb attacks. “The attack was at 8:20 pm yesterday night. The attack was from unknown gunmen at the Deeper Life Church,” said Lt Col Gabriel Olorunyomi, head of a military task force in Kogi. “They were doing their normal Monday evening service. When we went there we discovered the church had been attacked. Instantly we saw 15 people dead, including the pastor,” he explained. The military has since learned that an additional four people had died from their injuries, Olorunyomi explained. The National Emergency Management Agency’s central region chief, Ishaya Chonoko, said several people were also injured in the raid and that rescue workers were at the site. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and Kogi state police spokesman Simon Ile told AFP there were no early indications as to the culprits. “They entered the church…they just opened fire and they went away. We don’t know their motives yet,” he said. While Muslims have often been its victims, Boko Haram, which has said it wants to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has increasingly attacked Christians, often during church services. In addition to churches, Boko Haram has also targeted Muslim figures as well as a range of others, including the United Nations building in the capital Abuja.