Nigeria church attack in Kogi state 'kills 19'

Nigeria map

At least 19 people have been killed in a gun attack on a church in central Nigeria, officials say.

Gunmen stormed the church near the city of Okene in Kogi state and fired on worshippers, they say.

The pastor was among those killed when the assailants fired Kalashnikov assault rifles, the officials add.

It is not clear who carried out the attack but militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out numerous raids on churches and other targets in Nigeria.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says the shooting happened further south than most areas affected by Boko Haram violence.

The joint military force commander in Kogi state, Lt Col Gabriel Olorunyomi, said the gunmen opened fire on the Deeper Life Bible Church in the town of Otite, near Okene, the AP news agency reports.

Many others were wounded in the attack and rushed to different hospitals, Lt Col Gabriel Olorunyomi said.

The authorities are searching for more victims who may have run into the bush nearby, he added.

In April, Nigeria's security forces raided a suspected bomb-making factory in the Okene area, killing at least nine alleged Boko Haram militants.

In February, Boko Haram said it had attacked a jail in Kogi, using bombs and heavy gunfire to free 119 inmates.

But most Boko Haram attacks have been staged in the largely Muslim north of Nigeria.

The groups wants to establish Islamic law in the country, whose large Christian and animist population mainly lives in the south.

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