Nigeria Okene city gunmen target soldiers

Nigeria map

Two soldiers have been killed in an attack near a mosque in Okene in Nigeria - a day after gunmen shot dead at least 19 worshippers in a church.

Police suspect those who attacked the church killed the soldiers, a spokesman said, AFP news agency reports.

A 24-hour curfew has been declared in Okene in the central state of Kogi.

It is not clear who is behind the violence, but militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out numerous raids on churches and other targets.

Kogi state police spokesman Simon Ile said the soldiers were shot dead in an attack on their patrol van.


"We suspect that it was the handiwork of the hoodlums who carried out yesterday's [Monday's] attack in the church in Okene," he is quoted as saying by AFP.

One of the assailants was also killed in the shoot-out, he said.

Kogi state governor Idris Wada visited the Deeper Life Bible Church, where 19 people, including the pastor, were shot dead by men with Kalashnikov assault rifles. Many others were wounded in the attack.

Mr Wada declared a 24-hour curfew in Okene and the state capital, Lokoja, to curb the violence.

"The perpetrators of the heinous crime are wicked, devilish, ungodly and deserve no place in a sane society," he said in a statement.

"But they will not get away with it this time. We will spare no resource at our disposal to fish out the perpetrators and smoke terrorism out of our state."

The BBC's Chris Ewokor, who visited Okene, says the area is tense and there is a heavy deployment of security forces.

The gun attack has shocked both Muslim and Christian residents who have lived peacefully in the area, he says.

Our reporter says the shooting happened further south than most areas affected by Boko Haram violence.

Many people will be worried that the attack happened in Okene, where Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south meet, he adds.

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 further north. The groups wants to establish Islamic law across the whole country.

Around the BBC