Nigeria: Dozens of church-goers killed in Boko Haram attacks

Boko Haram attacks have increased in frequency across Nigeria in recent months. Here, two car bombs exploded at a bustling bus terminal and market in Nigeria's central city of Jos in late May, killing over 100 people.Press Association/ Sunday Alamba

Four churches have been attacked and scores killed in the latest bout of violence by suspected Boko Haram members.

Gunmen fired at worshippers gathered in Kwada village just 6 miles from Chibok in Borno state yesterday, where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped and taken hostage on April14.

The militants then set fire to the buildings, which included the Protestant Church of Christ in Nigeria and the Pentecostal Deeper Life Bible Church, before heading to nearby Kautikari village where they continued their rampage; shooting local civilians and setting fire to their homes.

The death toll is reported to be at least 30 in Kwada, though this figure is expected to climb.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Muslim-majority Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in May 2013 and has authorised an increased military presence in an attempt to combat extremism. However Boko Haram – whose name translates as 'Western education is forbidden' – continues to wreak devastation across northern Nigeria. Members are thought to be responsible for at least 2,000 deaths so far this year alone.

The group's leadership have declared intent to cleanse the country of Christians, eradicate Nigerian democracy and replace it with an Islamic state guided by Sharia law, though some Muslim communities believed to have betrayed Islam have also been targeted.

The Nigerian government has faced criticism for its failure to stop the insurgents, and Jonathan released a statement yesterday condemning other attacks in the past week.

"The president commiserates with all the families who lost loved ones in the heinous attacks and extends his heartfelt sympathies to all those who suffered injuries or lost their properties during the wanton assaults on Bauchi and Kaduna States," the statement reads.

"The Federal Government will continue to take all necessary action to apprehend the perpetrators of the dastardly attacks...The government will also restore the fullest possible security to all parts of the country."