Pastor and 19 Churchgoers Gunned Down in Nigeria Attack

Nigerian churches were targeted again this week after gunmen in central Nigeria killed 19 people, including a pastor, during a church service.

The latest shooting in the African country occurred on Monday night, although it was unclear just how many in total were wounded at Deeper Life Bible Church, also known as Deeper Christian Life Ministry, in the town of Otite in Kogi state, which is about 155 miles from the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Gabriel Olorunyomi said the attackers, which have not yet been identified, used Kalashnikov assault rifles in the attack, The Associated Press reported.

The Kogi State police department has so far not released further details about the incident, although National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Yushau Shuaib revealed that rescuers had been dispatched to the area Tuesday morning to help victims and their families.

Nigerian churches have been the targets of violence on almost a weekly basis since last year, as Islamic extremists from the terrorist group Boko Haram have stated that they plan on wiping out Christians from the country, which is divided along religious lines. Reports indicate that more than 660 people have been killed by the Islamist group, which has heightened tensions between Christians and Muslims.

"Nigeria is truly becoming the new killing field for Christians. Hundreds of Christians have already been brutally murdered – including women and children – by the Boko Haram," Open Doors, USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra has said. "The Boko Haram earlier this week said that all Christians need to turn to Islam or 'they would never know peace again.' Their goal is make all of Nigeria a country run and dominated by Shariah law."

Although the Nigerian government, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, has said that it is doing all it can to tackle the problem by increasing police presence at churches, it has been unable to prevent attacks and find an effective way to put an end to Boko Haram's activities.

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