At least 19 people, including the pastor, were shot dead in a church in the central town of Okene, police said.
A local military task force official, Lt. Col. Gabriel Olorunyomi, confirmed the attack, which took place on Monday night and also left many others injured, PM News Nigeria reported. He said the death toll might rise because some sustained grave injuries.
“The attack was from unknown gunmen at the Deeper Life Church,” Olorunyomi was quoted as saying. Fifteen people died on the scene and four others died later.
“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 added.
Oghenejabor Ikimi, a southern Nigeria-based human rights activist, told the Punch website that Nigeria’s security situation is lamentable and laughable.
“An ill-equipped, ill-trained and ill-funded police organization like the Nigeria Police cannot protect itself talk less of protecting the Nigerian populace,” Ikimi said.
No groups immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is suspected that Islamist sect Boko Haram was responsible. The group in recent years has launched deadly attacks and carried out bombings of churches in Nigeria.
In 2012 alone, Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is sinful,” has killed hundreds of people. And during Christmas Day last year, the group killed dozens in coordinated bomb attacks on churches.
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