Four people were killed in a suspected attack by Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram on a Sunday church service in the northeast town of Maiduguri, police said yesterday, adding to the death toll from a separate shooting in the country’s second-largest city Kano.
Gunmen killed at least 15 people and wounded many more at a Christian service in Kano on Sunday, the latest round of violence which has seen hundreds killed in the mostly-Muslim north of Nigeria this year.
No group took responsibility for either attack and it was not clear if they were coordinated, but both strikes bore the hallmarks of the Boko Haram sect, which has used bomb and gun attacks in its push to carve out an Islamic state in Africa’s most populous nation.
“Boko Haram who were six in number came in a Volkswagen Golf car and shot the pastor and three others while they were about to administer the Holy Communion to worshipers,” Maiduguri police spokesman Samuel Tizhe said.
Maiduguri is the capital of northeast Borno State, Boko Haram’s home region and the location of the majority of its attacks, which mostly target the police and military, but have also hit churches and drinking spots.
In the attack in Kano on Sunday, gunmen arrived on motorbikes at a university lecture theater used for Christian services and threw small home made bombs into the building before shooting fleeing worshipers.
“[Nigerian] President Goodluck Jonathan condemns the murderous terrorist attack on the Bayero University Campus in Kano [on Sunday] and the brutal killing of innocent worshipers at the University by vicious assailants,” a presidency statement said.
Jonathan has been criticized by Nigerians and foreign diplomats for failing to get a grip on the sect’s wave of violence, which has gained momentum since his presidential election victory a year ago.
Most of Boko Haram’s attacks focus on authority figures it believes have wronged the group by arresting or killing its members.
Nigeria’s more than 160 million population is split roughly equally between a largely Christian south and a mostly Muslim north.