Pope Benedict XV1 wishes the savage attacks against Nigerian Christians and churches come to an end, but the savagery continues unabated.

The latest was the attack in a village near Potiskum, the capital of the North eastern state of Yobe and centre of Boko Haram deadly activism.

While Christians in an ECWA church in the village of Peri gathered to celebrate Christmas eve, gunmen descended on them, killing six people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire, residents and police said Tuesday.

“A group of gunmen came into the village at midnight and went straight to the church… they opened fire on them, killing the pastor and five worshippers. They then set fire to the church,” said Usman Mansir, resident of the village.

The head of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Yobe, Idi Garba, said that many worshippers at ECWA “are still missing.”

“I have been informed that six bodies have been recovered,” Garba said, adding that some who lived near the church “fled their homes during the attack and it is assumed that they are still hiding in the bush.”

Residents reported that the gunmen also set fire to several of the homes surrounding the church.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Yobe, DSP. Adamu Salihu, on Tuesday confirmed the attack on Piri, also spelt Peri Village

The Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has often targeted churches in its bloody insurgency, as well as police and other symbols of the establishment in Nigeria. Violence linked to the insurgency is believed to have left some 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.

.UPdated at 18.00GMT