|Gunmen kill Nigerian pastor, 18 worshippers|
|Wednesday, 08 August 2012 00:00|
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.
“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,” said Lt. Col. Gabriel Olorunyomi, head of a military task force in Kogi.
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 said 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.
In a video posted to YouTube on Saturday, the suspected leader of Boko Haram criticised president Goodluck Jonathan as well as US President Barack Obama over Washington's decision to label him a “global terrorist”. It was unclear when the video was made, but it marked the first time Abubakar Shekau publicly addressed the terrorist designation slapped on him by the United States in June.
Some US lawmakers and the leader of Nigeria’s main Christian body have been pushing Obama’ administration to label Boko Haram as a whole a terrorist organisation.
They have argued that labelling it a terrorist organisation would simply boost its profile and possibly complicate efforts to resolve the crisis. — AFP.