3 dead, 2 injured attackers target 2 churches in north-west Nigeria

Three people have died and two others injured after an attack on two churches in Kaduna state, north-west Nigeria.

The state’s Commissioner of Internal Security, Samuel Aruwan, said an unknown number of criminals on motorcycles entered four villages in coordinated attacks robbing people and later targeted Maranatha Baptist and St. Moses Catholic churches.

Mr Aruwan added that several people had also been kidnapped.

“The bandits looted shops and stole some valuables from villages. Police officers are patrolling the area. Investigations are ongoing.” he said in a statement.

Kaduna state acting governor Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe has condemned the attack and called on the police to speed up their investigations.

Nigeria is struggling to curb a deadly wave of kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs who frequently target unprotected rural communities, schools and motorists on highways.

Earlier this month, attackers targeted a church in the south-west of the country killing 40 people.

Worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, south-western Nigeria, were celebrating Pentecost earlier this month when suddenly a group of armed men who had been hiding among the congregation opened fire, killing 40 people, including four children.

A mass burial has been held in Owo for some of those killed, who included many bread-winners for their families.

The Nigerian government suspects the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) carried out the attack but that has been disputed by local authorities, including Ondo state governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

ISWAP, which normally operates in northern Nigeria, has not claimed responsibility for the attack and nor has any other group.

A grieving community is struggling to understand what happened, and with no arrests made, questions remain about whether the perpetrators will ever be brought to justice.

The church is still closed so the funeral service has taken place in a nearby hotel, with increased security.

After the service, Father Abayomi the pastor from St Francis Catholic Church, told families to collect the bodies and finally laid them to rest.

The recent killing of dozens worshippers at a Catholic church in south-western Nigeria has reignited concern about religious violence in the country.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella group representing church groups, says attacks on churches and Christians have been increasing sharply. -BBC

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