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Nigerian States Propose Religion Limits as Gunmen Kill 19 at Bible Study
EPA/STR
Damage outside Christ Chosen Church of God in Rukuba, Nigeria, in June. Church attacks this week suggest the attacks are moving south.

State governments are mulling restrictions on religious practice in order to stem the spread of sectarian violence in Nigeria—a concern underscored Monday when gunmen opened fire at an evening Bible study in the country’s largely Christian south, killing at least 19 worshipers.

Church shootings and bombings have become all-too-commonplace in the troubled West African nation, especially in its largely Muslim north. But the attack at Deeper Life Church in Kogi state—150 miles southwest of the nation’s centralized capital, Abuja—represents an unusual southern incursion by militants. One assailant turned off the lights in the windowless sanctuary while others used assault rifles to mow down the crowd.

The shooting follows, among other incidents, the July killing of 50 church members seeking refuge in a pastor’s home in Plateau state, and the subsequent killing of Christian senator Gyang Dantong—known as Nigeria’s “bridge between religions, cultures and tribes”—and others during a funeral for the victims.

June saw nearly weekly attacks on churches, continuing an unusually violent year.

Last week, police foiled the bombing of the children’s section of a megachurch in Abuja, the nation’s capital, as well as foiled the suicide bombing of a mosque in the capital of northern Kano state.

Reprisal attacks have increased in severity as Nigerian Christians have debated whether to turn the other cheek or seek “an eye for an eye.” A prominent member of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Calabar pastor Emmah Isong, attributed recent reprisal attacks in Kaduna state to pent-up frustration.

“[They] were in response to the frequent attacks on Christians ...

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July 2012

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