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Suspected Islamic extremists used explosives and machine guns to attack a Catholic church and a market in northeast Nigeria, killing at least 138 people and razing hundreds of homes, according to eyewitnesses.
The attacks in Borno and Adamawa states resulted in one of the highest death tolls in recent attacks by terrorists, who are defying an eight-month old military state of emergency in three states in northern Nigeria designed to halt an Islamist uprising there.
Terrorists in Adamawa, south of Borno, stormed a Mass in the village of Wada Chakawa, firing guns, setting off explosives in the church and taking hostages during a five-hour siege. Fr Raymond Danbouye, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese of Yola, said dozens of people were killed.
Maina Ularamu, a diocesan official, said 45 bodies had been recovered, including those of two police officers.
Moses Apogu, a local man, told the Associated Press: “They used explosives during the attack on worshippers, and many people lost their lives.” Another resident said some of the people taken away were later killed.
The charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide said on Thursday that around 53 people were reported to have died and dozens were wounded when militants armed with AK-47s and improvised explosive devices (IED’s) attacked the church just as a busy Sunday service was ending. "After killing a police inspector and sergeant who were guarding the church, the gunmen barred the doors, shooting anyone attempting to escape through windows. They cut the throats of several victims before burning houses and holding residents hostage for four hours."
Also on Sunday attackers set off several explosions in the village of Kawuri in Borno after launching their assault near the market on Sunday night, a security official said. He blamed suspected Boko Haram terrorists for the attack, in whcih the village was burnt down, at least 85 people were killed and 300 homes were destroyed.