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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Nigerian Church, Mosque Shootings Create Confusion; Leaders Warn of Anarchy: Pastor and 19 Churchgoers Gunned Down in Nigeria Attack

Nigerian Church, Mosque Shootings Create Confusion; Leaders Warn of Anarchy

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

August 10, 2012|4:37 pm

Tensions are mounting in Nigeria after four people were killed Aug. 8 near a mosque – providing a new twist in a national conflict that so far had exclusively targeted Christians.

According to reports the attack on the Muslim prayer building occurred at the Central Mosque in Okene, when armed gunmen came out of a van chanting Islamic songs before shooting at people standing outside, killing two soldiers in the process.

The incident came the same week that 25 Christians were shot dead by gunmen using AK-47s in Okene in Kogi state near the capital of Abuja.

While police have yet to determine who carried out both attacks and if they were related, the Islamic radical group Boko Haram has strongly been linked with the Christian attack. The group has been targeting churches and believers for a year, killing over 600 people in their self-stated mission to get rid of Christianity in Nigeria.

The mosque attack remains a mystery, however, as it is not clear if or why Boko Haram would this time chose to target Muslims – or if it is in any way a retaliation attack in response to the growing tensions between Christians and Muslims. Whatever the reason and motives, however, church leaders in Nigeria are pleading with citizens not to allow the country to descend into total chaos by turning on each other.

"At the rate we are going, the country is drifting fast into anarchy," Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said. He added that the government, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, needs to do more to protect its people.

Pastor and 19 Churchgoers Gunned Down in Nigeria Attack

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

August 7, 2012|11:10 am

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.