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Nigerian church-goers massacred

Nigerian religious worshippers have been killed while attending a church service. Radical Islamist group Boko Haram has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Gunmen opened fire at an evangelical church service in central Nigeria killing the congregation's leader and at least 18 worshippers while injuring several others, military officials said on Tuesday.

The attack, at Deeper Life church in the town of Otite in Kogi state, 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of the Nigerian capital Abuja, was reportedly carried out by radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

During the service, armed men surrounded the church, and opened fire with Kalashnikov assault rifles, Military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Olorunyomi said.

As police and armed soldiers cordoned off the church following the attack, gathered witnesses told the Associated Press that pools of blood had stained the church floor.

It was unclear exactly how many people had been injured in the attack.

Soldiers and members of the National Emergency Management Agency are searching for the gunmen, but no arrests have been made, Olorunyomi said.

Nigeria faces continued attacks from radical Islamist group Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege," in the Hausa language of Nigeria's Muslim north.

The radical group has repeatedly targeted Christian worshippers in a series of gun and suicide bomb attacks across the country in recent months.

Nigeria is home to more than 160 million people and is largely divided into a Muslim north and Christian south.

jlw/sej (AP, AFP, Reuters)