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Church Attack in Central Nigerian State Kills at Least 17

Gunmen in Nigeria killed 17 people and wounded at least eight others when they fired on worshipers at a church in central Kogi state late yesterday, said Alice Ogedengbe, head of the state’s emergency agency.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Deeper Life Bible Church near the town of Okene, Jacob Edi, the spokesman for Kogi state Governor Idris Wada, said by phone today from the state capital, Lokoja.

“The situation is very tense” after a bomb was discovered today in a residential area of Lokoja, 62 kilometers (39 miles) north of Okene, Ogedengbe said. The police were called in and the device has been detonated, she said.

The incident is the latest in a spate of gun and bomb attacks in the mainly Muslim north and central parts of Africa’s top oil producer that have killed hundreds of people since 2009. Most of the attacks have been claimed by the Boko Haram militant Islamists, who haven’t before attacked as far south as Okene.

In another incident, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members shot dead a pastor of a Christian church in the northeastern city of Maiduguri yesterday, Gideon Jibrin, the Borno state police spokesman, said today by phone from Maiduguri, the state capital.

Ali Samari, a pastor at the Good News Church in the city, was followed to his home and killed “by two gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram,” Jibrin said.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin,” wants to impose Islamic rule in Africa’s most populous country of more than 160 million people. Nigeria is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

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