According to Police sources, gunmen killed a Catholic priest in a gruesome attack on Sunday in Northern Nigeria.
At around 02:00 GMT in the village of Kavin-Kourou (central state) in Niger state, gunmen known locally as “bandits” set fire to the house of a priest who was burned, said Wasio Biodone, spokesman for the police in the state.
“They set fire to Father Isaac Achi’s house after failing to reach him. Unfortunately, the house was burnt down while the Reverend Father was burned alive,” he said.
The spokesman added that the attackers shot and wounded another priest as he tried to escape.
In another attack, a few hours later, the “bandits” invaded a house in the village of Dan Tsoni (Kankara district, northwest) in Katsina state and kidnapped five worshipers who were preparing to attend Sunday mass in a nearby church.
“The terrorists kidnapped five people inside the church, shot a priest in the hand, and fled with the five hostages,” state police spokesman Gambo Issa told AFP.
He added that the wounded priest was taken to hospital for treatment.
Nigerian authorities are struggling to contain escalating violence in the north and central regions, as armed groups attack rural communities, killing thousands and kidnapping people for ransom.
Local residents said security forces are often outnumbered and poorly equipped, and suspects are rarely apprehended.
Attacks sometimes target religious figures such as clergy. In July of last year, the Rev. John Mark Chitnum was murdered after being kidnapped in northwest Kaduna state.
Sunday’s incident drew international condemnation. Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani issued a statement describing the attack as “cowardly and inhumane”.
Niger state governor Abubakar Sani Bello said the killing showed no one was safe. “These terrorists have lost their composure and radical action is needed to end this ongoing massacre,” he said.
The Nigerian Christian Association urged authorities to investigate and do more to protect civilians. “Enough of the indiscriminate attacks and killings of innocent Nigerian citizens,” said Paulus John, president of the association.