Police in Nigeria are searching for suspects who stormed a church near the capital city of Abuja and shot dead a woman and her young daughter who were attending a Sunday worship service where several other churchgoers were injured. It's believed it was a targeted attack.
The gunmen arrived on a motorcycle and attacked the Celestial Church in Kogi state’s Lokoja area, about 65 miles from Abuja, last Sunday, the Nigerian newspaper The Guardian reported.
“When they entered, they started shooting at everyone outside the church,” a witness was quoted as saying. “I went and hid inside a cassava farm,” the witness added, comparing the incident to “an action film.”
Speaking to journalists, Jerry Omodara, Kogi state’s top security official, confirmed the attack and the consequent death of two people but did not comment on the affiliation of the gunmen.
“It looked like it was organized against that particular church, because their altar was burned with petrol they went with,” The Associated Press quoted Omodara as saying.
Another senior police officer, SP William Ovye-Aya, was quoted as saying, “There was a distress call made to our command over the attack, which left two female worshipers dead, and several others injured. On getting the alert, our command quickly deployed a response team to the area with a view to restoring normalcy in the area and arresting the perpetrators.”
About a week after the attack, it’s not known if the suspects have been arrested, or even identified.
This was the second targeted attack on a church in Lokoja area in three weeks, the newspaper said.
In late July, the Evangelical Church Winning All said in a report that suspected Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists had killed six of its pastors and kidnapped 27 others from the church group over the past seven months.
Northern Nigeria has been engulfed by terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim extremists who invade predominantly Christian communities, Mac Philips, a coordinator of ECWA’s Evangelical Missionary Society told Morning Star News at the time.
In May, unidentified terrorists killed two Catholic priests in the states of Kaduna and Edo.
Also in May, the Islamic State terrorist group released a video showing the execution of 20 Christian civilians in Borno State in revenge for the killing of their leader in Syria by the United States special forces in February.
The video, released by an IS-linked news outlet, showed a masked militant executing a Christian civilian while saying it was revenge for the killing of their leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, an Iraqi Islamic terrorist and the second “caliph” of the Islamic State.
On Pentecost Sunday earlier this year, gunmen suspected to be Islamic Fulani herdsmen barged into St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, in southwestern Nigeria, opened fire and detonated explosives while the congregation was celebrating Mass, killing at least 50 worshipers, including women and children.
Catholic News Agency has noted that more Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country worldwide — at least 4,650 in 2021, and nearly 900 in the first three months of 2022 alone.