Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Nigerian authorities Tuesday vowed to fish out the perpetrators of Monday night's attack on a pentecostal church in Okene, in the country's central Kogi state, which led to the death of 19 church members and left many injured.
''Tell Christians not to be discouraged from worshipping God. The perpetrators will be fished out and will be prosecuted according to the laws of the land,'' the local media quoted the State Governor, Idris Wada, as saying when he visited the Deeper Life Bible Church.
The church was attacked by gunmen while the members were having their usual weekly bible study.
The attackers switched off the church's power generator, throwing the church into darkness before firing indiscriminately at worshippers.
Some 15 members died instantly while four more were confirmed to have died in hospital, according to the Commander of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the state, Lt.-Col. Gabriel Olorunyomi.
Among the dead were the Pastor in charge of the church, Lambe Emmanuel, and nine women worshippers.
The Governor also visited the General Hospital at Okene, where some of those injured in the attack were being treated, and promised that the government would foot the bills for their treatment.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but observers said it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic sect Boko Haram, which has been targeting churches and Christians in its attacks.
Kogi state is the farthest down south in which the sect has carried out its attacks which have hitherto been restricted to the predominantly-Muslim north as well as the capital city of Abuja, where the police headquarters and the UN Offices have been attacked.
Boko Haram said it is bent on carving out an Islamic state in Nigeria, and recently asked President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, to resign and convert to Islam.
President Jonathan has rebuffed the call.
Meanwhile, the umbrella Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the killings, which it described as barbaric.
CAN's Vice President Femi Asiwaju told journalists in Lagos that it was unfortunate that the government had not been able to stop the killing of innocent Nigerians.
Nigeria's Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, said early this year that over 1,200 people have been killed in gun and bomb attacks in the country since 2009, when the sect launched its violent campaign.
But hundreds more have died in more gun and bomb attacks since then, but no other official figure has been given.
-0- PANA SEG/VAO 7Aug2012