17 Nigerians shot dead at New Year service

MORE than a dozen Nigerians have been shot dead after attending a New Year’s Day church service.

A group who had just left a midnight service in the southern town of Omuku were ambushed by an armed gang, who fired at random into the group. There were mixed reports on the exact number killed: some agencies suggested that as many as 17 people were left dead.

The shooting is being connected to gang violence, which has escalated in the region over the past 12 months, police sources say. Omuku is in the country’s oil-producing Niger Delta region, where armed gangs demand a bigger share of the profits of foreign oil companies.

“The gunmen opened fire on a set of worshippers at about 12.30 [a.m.] on Monday,” Ugochi Olugbo, a relative of one of the victims, told the news agency AFP.

“The Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Zaki, has also launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted.”

Local reports suggested that the sound of the gunshots was lost amid fireworks released to celebrate the New Year, delaying the police response. read more…