Gunmen slay 11 worshippers in Nigerian church, miss their target

Gunmen stormed a church in Nigeria Sunday and killed 11 worshipers — even though the man they came to kill wasn’t there, officials said.

Authorities in the town of Ozubulu, in the southeastern part of the country, said the violence at St. Philip Catholic Church, which also wounded 18, may have been linked to a drug trafficking feud between two men.

“The gunmen came thinking that their target was in the church but incidentally he was not,” said Garba Umar, head of police in Anambra state.

No arrests had been made.

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Local rights activist Emeka Umeagbalasi told Agence France-Presse the gunmen had gone to kill the son of a local chief but didn’t find him at home. They became angry upon realizing he wasn’t at church, either, he said.

They opened “fire on parishioners and shot indiscriminately,” he said, adding that the father of the intended target was shot and wounded.

One parishioner, Uche Nonoso, disputed the death toll, saying over 15 were killed in the attack that began around 6 a.m. Questions also lingered about the number of attackers.

Witness Chukwuma Emeka said he had just stepped out of the church to stretch his legs “when I heard gunshots and screaming and people running inside.”

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“When the chaos subsided I went inside,” he added. “I saw my fellow church members dead in a pool of their own blood and many others were screaming in pain.”

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities said they did not believe Boko Haram jihadists were behind the shooting.

With News Wire Services

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