Published: 09:50 GMT Daylight Time - Wednesday 08 August 2012
Church attack in Nigeria’s Kogi state kills 20; evangelist shot dead in Borno state
Country/Region: Africa, Nigeria
At least 20 people, including a pastor, have been killed in a gun attack on a church in central Nigeria, while an evangelist was shot dead at his home in a north-eastern city.
The church attack took place in Kogi state
A group of gunmen stormed Deeper Life Church in Otite, in the Okene region of Kogi state, during an evening service on Monday 6 August. They cut the electricity supply, blocked the exits and opened fire on the trapped worshippers; 15 people were killed at the scene and a further five later died in hospital. Many people were wounded, while others may have fled into the bush.
The following day, a suspected bomb was found at Revival House Church in the capital of Kogi state, Lokoja.
Elsewhere, in Maiduguri, Borno state, evangelist Ali Samari (57) was shot dead, reportedly at his home, on Monday evening. An eyewitness said that Ali was followed by two gunmen as he made his way home from his other work as a watch repairer. He had previously been warned by suspected Boko Haram militants to leave his property.
No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the incidents, but Islamist group Boko Haram has mounted scores of attacks on churches and Christians in North and central Nigeria in recent months. A number of its members are reported to come from Kogi state.
Kogi forms part of Nigeria's Middle Belt, in which Christians and Muslims live in roughly equal numbers. It is further south than most areas previously affected by Boko Haram's brutal campaign, but this year it has witnessed several violent incidents.
On 15 July a car bomb exploded near Living Faith Church in Okene where hundreds of people had gathered for a service. On that occasion no-one was hurt. The security forces also prevented a suspected suicide bomber from detonating explosives at another church.
Earlier this year Boko Haram said that it had attacked a jail in Kogi and freed 119 inmates, while the authorities raided a supposed bomb-making factory in Okene and killed at least nine alleged members of the group.
Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people this year in pursuit of its goal of an Islamic state in the North of Nigeria. It has targeted Christians in particular, whom it has designated its "enemies", though members of the security forces and others have also been attacked.
The group's attacks seem to be spreading across Nigeria, and their extension towards the predominantly Christian South is a further disturbing development for the country's churches.
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