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A group of unidentified gunmen stormed the Deeper Life Church in Nigeria’s central Kogi state and fired Kalashnikov assault rifles killing at least 19 people during an evening service on Monday, August 6, 2012.

Scene at the church after this latest attack

Local officials told the BBC that that the gunmen stormed the church near the city of Okene in Kogi state and fired on worshippers

The pastor was among those killed when the assailants fired Kalashnikov assault rifles, the officials added.

“It is not clear who carried out the attack but militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out numerous raids on churches and other targets in Nigeria,” said the BBC story.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says the shooting happened further south than most areas affected by Boko Haram violence.

Another media report said that the joint military force commander in Kogi state, Lt Col Gabriel Olorunyomi, said the gunmen opened fire on the Deeper Life Bible Church in the town of Otite, near Okene.

Many others were wounded in the attack and rushed to different hospitals, Lt Col Gabriel Olorunyomi said.

A witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted, said around 10 gunmen blocked off the exits to the church before shooting the trapped people inside.

The authorities are searching for more victims who may have run into the bush nearby, he added.

“In April, Nigeria’s security forces raided a suspected bomb-making factory in the Okene area, killing at least nine alleged Boko Haram militants,” said the BBC.

“In February, Boko Haram said it had attacked a jail in Kogi, using bombs and heavy gunfire to free 119 inmates.

“But most Boko Haram attacks have been staged in the largely Muslim north of Nigeria.”

 

Gunmen from Boko Haram

According to NBC News, the group, which is loosely based on Afghanistan’s Taliban and wants to establish Islamic law in the country, usually target authority figures and places of worship to settle scores with people they say harmed their members.

It added that Boko Haram has attacked several churches this year in Nigeria but Monday’s attack was farther south than the group’s usual targets.

“It wants to have an Islamic state inside Nigeria, a country of more than 160 million split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims,” said NBC News.

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