Gunmen killed 11 people and wounded 18 others in a church in Anambra state, southeastern Nigeria on Sunday in an attack arising from a feud between members of the local community, officials said.
Confirming that the killings in Ozubulu was drug crime-related, the Police said intelligence report/preliminary investigation proved that it was a fight between two sons of the community residing outside the country that caused the incident, adding that it was one of the suspected drug barons who built the church in which the incident happened.
The state governor, Willie Obiano, also confirmed this, saying he had been briefed by sources in the community that the reason for the killings was as a result of a misunderstanding between two members of the community who live outside the country.
An eyewitness, Pa Don Ogbuagu, told our correspondent that the gunmen actually went to assassinate a billionaire son of one of the clan chiefs of Ozubulu, Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu (a.k.a. Bishop Ebubechukwu-Uzo of Ozubulu).
Ogbuagu said unfortunately for them, they met his absence, forcing them to storm a church located near his house (St Philips) in search of him during which he was nowhere to be found.
“This angered them to the extent that they opened fire on innocent parishioners, shooting at them indiscriminately. The father of the billionaire was also shot and injured in his hand”, he added.
The attackers struck the church in Ozubulu early in the morning, said Garba Umar, head of police in Anambra state.
They were believed to have been trying to kill a local man, who was not identified by the authorities.
“The gunmen came thinking that their target was in the church but incidentally he was not,” Umar said, adding that the violence may be linked to drug-trafficking.
No arrests have been made, he said.
Nigeria’s southeast is predominantly Christian and an attack is a rare act of violence at a church.
Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano said the attack stemmed from a feud between members of the local community who were living outside Nigeria.
“We are not going to relent until we bring those that perpetrated this heinous crime to book,” he said.
Ethnically-charged violence is common throughout the central states and militancy is a constant threat in the oil-rich southeast.