Suspected Boko Haram Islamists on Thursday opened fire in a church in Nigeria’s restive northeast, killing the pastor and his two children before setting fire to the building and fleeing, the military said.
Boko Haram, which has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state
in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, has repeatedly attacked churches in
its four-year insurgency.
“Unknown gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists attacked” the
church in Yobe state early on Thursday, area military spokesman Eli
Lazarus said in a statement.
“During the attack, a pastor and his two children were killed,” he said.
The church “and two other houses in the community were burnt by the
gunmen before fleeing the scene of the incident,” the statement further
The killings occurred in the town of Dorawa, some 30 kilometres (18
miles) from the site of a brutal school attack in July that saw dozens
of students slaughtered.
Yobe was one of three northeastern states placed under a state of
emergency in mid-May as the military launched a major offensive aimed at
crushing Boko Haram.
Yobe has seen less violence than neighbouring Borno state, Boko
Haram’s base, but the insurgents have carried out major attacks there.
Attacks on churches, including suicide bombings, were once a near weekly occurence but have declined in recent months.
Since the emergency measures were imposed Boko Haram has largely
targeted civilians as well as vigilante groups which have formed to help
The latest violence came after the emergence of a new video, in which
a man who resembles Boko Haram’s leader mocked reports of his possible
Abubakar Shekau, declared a global terrorist by the United States,
taunted the regional military spokesman who said he “may have been”
fatally wounded in a clash on June 30.
While Shekau’s whereabouts and condition are unknown, the violence
has continued, casting doubt on the success of the four-month-old
The Boko Haram conflict was earlier this year estimated to have
killed more than 3,600 people, including deaths caused by the security
forces. The current toll is likely much higher.