By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) – Suspected Islamist gunmen burned a Catholic priest to death and shot and injured his colleague in northwest Nigeria on Sunday, police and church sources said, prompting Christians to call for prayers.
The attackers, described by locals as “bandits,” torched the parish residence of Isaac Achi, the priest of ‘St. Peters and Paul Catholic Church’ in the town of Kafin-Koro in Niger’s Paikoro Local Government Area, Catholic sources said.
Catholics said the priest could not flee his burning home and that the assailants shot and wounded Collins Omeh, a fellow priest who tried to escape the flames.
He “remains in hospital but is responding to treatment,” the Vatican said.
State’s police spokesperson Wasiu Abiodun said that “the bandits attempted to enter the residence, but failed, and set fire to the house, while the [priest] died charred.”
Police tactical teams from Kafin-Koro “were immediately dispatched to the scene, but the perpetrators fled before they arrived,” Abiodun recalled.
Priest Achi’s human remains have been recovered while his colleague was taken “to hospital for treatment,” authorities said.
In comments monitored by BosNewsLife, Nigeria’s Roman Catholic Diocese of Minna called for prayers “for the Diocese and the quick recovery of Father Collins. “
Sunday’s attack raised security concerns ahead of a nationwide election.
On February 25, Nigerians will choose a new president, but kidnappings for ransom and killings by armed gangs in the north led to fears that polls may not be held everywhere.
Yet Police Commissioner Ogundele Ayodeji said reinforcements were deployed in the area “and efforts are ongoing to apprehend the assailants, while investigations into the tragic attack have commenced.”
It was unclear whether these security forces could prevent many attacks in a nation where thousands of Christians have been killed in recent years.