Friday, January 6, 2012

Nigerian church shootings kill six

(The Guardian) Gunmen attacked a church in north-east Nigeria during a prayer service, spraying the congregation with gunfire and killing at least six people, including the pastor's wife.

The attack, which happened late on Thursday, came only weeks after a radical Muslim sect claimed responsibility for a series of deadly bombings at churches in northern Nigeria.

Ahmed Muhammad, a spokesman for Gombe state police, said eight others were wounded in the shootings at the Deeper Life church in Gombe.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the church attack, but suspicion fell on the radical Muslim Boko Haram sect, which has carried out increasingly sophisticated and bloody attacks in its campaign to implement strict sharia law across Nigeria.

Boko Haram, whose name means "western education is sacrilege" in Hausa, was responsible for more than 500 killings last year.

The group claimed responsibility for an attack that killed at least 42 people in a Christmas Day bombing of a Catholic church near Abuja, as well as a suicide car bombing at the UN headquarters in the capital that killed 25 people and wounded more than 100.

Nigeria's weak central government has been slow to respond to the sect.

The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, recently put regions of the country under a state of emergency, but that did not include Gombe.

Regions of Borno, Niger, Plateau and Yobe states were put under the state of emergency on 31 December, allowing the authorities to make arrests without proof and conduct searches without warrants. International borders near Borno and Yobe state were closed.

However, it remains unclear what impact that will have on a sect that has used hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings againstg the military and police as well as civilians.

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