As a three-day ultimatum by the Boko Haram sect to Southerners and Christians living in northern Nigeria expired yesterday, gunmen stormed a branch of Deeper Life church in Gombe State, north East Nigeria, and shot six worshippers dead, Johnson Jauro, the churchâ€™s pastor said.
Jauro said that his wife was among those murdered while at least 10 other worshippers were injured in the attack.
â€œThe attackers started shooting sporadically. They shot through the window of the church, and many people were killed including my wife,â€ Jauro told newsmen by telephone from his Deeper Life Church in Nasarawa.
â€œMany of my members who attended the church service were also injured,â€ he said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but a string of church bombings on Christmas Day by Boko Haram left about 50 people dead and hundreds others injured.
The group recently issued a three-day ultimatum to Christians and Southerners living in northern Nigeria to leave the region or face the consequences.
Speaking in Hausa language, Abul Qaqa a spokesperson for the sect said while giving the ultimatum: â€œwe also wish to call on our fellow Muslims to come back to the north because we have evidence that they would be attacked.
â€œWe are also giving a three-day ultimatum to the southerners living in the northern part of Nigeria to move away.â€
The killings came barely 24 hours after bombs went off in Maiduguri and Damaturu respectively. In Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, a father and son were killed by suspected Boko Haram members.
Attacks by Boko Haram have become increasingly frequent and are a major problem for security agencies.
On Christmas Day, at least five bombings were reported, including three at churches. The worst appeared to be at a packed Catholic church just outside the capital, Abuja, where at least 40 people were killed after the mass.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for several of the bombings and was suspected in others. The same group carried out a series of Christmas Eve bombings in 2010.
The first explosion on Christmas Day struck St. Theresaâ€™s Catholic Church in Madalla, about 50 kilometres northwest of Abuja, which was filled for the Christmas service.
A second explosion struck near the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos, North Central Nigeria. Gunmen later opened fire on police officers guarding the area, killing one officer. Two other bombs were found in a nearby building and disarmed.
Three other explosions were reported, two in the city of Damaturu and another at a church in Gadaka.
Three days before the Christmas Day bombings, Damaturu was the scene of heavy fighting between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces. The army said it killed more than 50 members of the sect, and that three of its soldiers were also killed.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a 4 November attack on Damaturu that killed more than 100. The group also claimed to have carried out the suicide car bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja in August, killing 24 people.
Nigeriaâ€™s president, Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian who has dismissed the Islamist rebellion as â€œa temporary setback,â€ called the bombings â€œunfortunateâ€ but said Boko Haram would not be around forever. â€œIt will end one day,â€ Jonathan was reported to have said.