Gunmen in police uniforms kill 21 at Nigeria mosque
15 October, 2012
KADUNA: Gunmen opened fire on Muslim worshippers as they were leaving a mosque in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least 21 people, officials said.
The attack took place in a remote village of Dogo Dawa, in Kaduna state, said Abdullahi Muhammad, the traditional ruler and councillor of Birnin Gwari, a local government area next door to the village.
However, the military and locals said the pre-dawn raid was carried out by armed robbers engaged in a running feud with a local vigilante group.
Having been repelled by the community militia last week, the gang returned on Sunday, storming the mosque as people readied for early morning prayers, killing some victims inside the building and some outside.
"We have 21 killed. Several others have been taken to the hospital with injuries," said Musa Illela of the National Emergency Management Agency in Kaduna.
Religiously divided Kaduna has been rocked by waves of sectarian violence in recent months.
Suicide bombings at three churches in June that were claimed by terrorist group Boko Haram sparked reprisal violence by Christian mobs who killed dozens of their Muslim neighbours.
Boko Haram, blamed for killing more than 1,400 people in Nigeria since 2010, has repeatedly targeted the state and also attacked Muslim leaders it accuses of not supporting its hardline interpretation of Islam.
But military spokesman Colonel Sani Usman told AFP that Sunday's shooting was "a clear case of armed robbery", and described it as a "revenge" attack linked to the rivalry between the thieves and the vigilantes.
Village resident Dauda Maikudi told AFP that thieves regularly target the area as Dogon Dawa lies not far from a main road used by traders. "It was a pre-dawn raid," he said. "The attackers... some of them dressed in police uniform, came into the village."