Churches have often been targeted by Islamic militants in Nigeria. (File photo).
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)-- Suspected Islamic militants armed with guns and explosives attacked a busy church service in a northeastern Nigerian village, killing at least 22 people, witnesses and church officials said Monday, January 27.
The attackers reportedly set off bombs and fired into the congregation in the Catholic church in Waga Chakawa village in Adamawa state on Sunday, January 26, before burning houses and taking residents hostage during a four hour siege.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the latest anti-Christian attack. However observers said President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, has been struggling to contain the group Boko Haram, or 'Western education is a sin' in remote rural regions in the country’s northeastern areas.
The militants, who launched an uprising in 2009, have been fighting for an independent Islamic state and previously ordered Christians to leave the country's north.
MORE DEADLY ATTACKS
Boko Haram has also been linked top several other deadly church attacks, as part of its campaign to impose 'Sharia', or Islamic law, in the African nation.
In a statement, the priest of the Catholic Diocese of Yola, Raymond Danbouye, confirmed that the 22 people who were killed were buried during a funeral service on Monday, January 27.
Reuters news agency said the military and police did not respond to requests for comment but quoted one army source as confirming the attack. The official asked not to be named because he wasn't authorised to speak with media.
Waga Chakawa is near the border with Nigeria's Borno state where there was a separate assault on Monday, January 27, by suspected members of Boko Haram in Kawuri village, according to local witnesses.
SEVERAL PEOPLE KILLED
Residents of that village who fled to the state capital Maiduguri reportedly said gunmen killed several people and set homes ablaze in the early morning attack.
It came as a major setback for President Jonathan, who already replaced his chiefs of defence, army, navy and air force last week in a widespread military shake-up, apparently as part of an effort to change tactics in tackling Boko Haram.
The president declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states in May last year and launched an intensified military campaign to try to end the insurgency, which has killed thousands of people, including many Christians.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).