Six people were killed and at least eight wounded after a gunman burst into a church during service and opened fire on the congregation in northeastern Nigeria late Thursday.
One of the people killed in the Deeper Life Church in Gombe is the wife of pastor Johnson Jauro, The Associated Press reported.
The attack comes only two weeks after a Muslim extremist group, Boko Haram, terrorized the country’s Christian population by bombing several churches on Christmas Day and killing 39 people, the bloodiest attack that has taken place close to the nation’s capital, Abuja, in central Nigeria.
Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly put several of the nation’s regions under a state of emergency due to the threat, but that did not include Gombe state, according to AP.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack, but suspicion immediately fell on Boko Haram, the news agency said.
After the Christmas Day bombings, many Nigerians chose to flee the regions touched by violence, and many more live in fear in the face of continued threats from the terror group, members of whom confessed their desire to kill Christians.
Nigeria is divided between the Islamic north and the Christian south, and has been torn by religious conflicts and terrorism for a long time. Last year, during Christmas 2010, Boko Haram also targeted Christians in the city of Jos, killing numerous worshipers. It is believed that more than 1,000 have died in religious attacks in the past two years alone.
The two faiths first engaged each other in serious conflict three decades ago, Jonathan Racho, the International Christian Concern's regional manager for Africa told The Christian Post recently. As time wore on, growing disparities in wealth and increased government corruption made matters worse. The latest source of tension between the two is Sharia, he concluded, the practice of Islamic holy law that extremist Muslims want implemented across Nigeria.
"The primary cause of conflict is the Islamic religion," Racho said. "Christians in Nigeria need a lot of help. There are continuous attacks on the church there."
But next to religion there are also ethnic and economic differences that divide the country, John Campbell, the Council on Foreign Relations' Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies told CP, given that Nigeria contains 350 different ethnic groups that span careers ranging from farmers to herders.
"Where there tends to be religious conflict in Nigeria is when ethnic, religious and economic boundaries coincide," Campbell said. "All these factors are interconnected."