At least 14 people have been shot by armed men in Nigeria as the deceased were leaving a Christian religious service to celebrate the New Year.
The Independent reported that the worshipers were killed at two separate churches at approximately 12:30 a.m. local time on Monday in the southern state of Rivers. Authorities said that between the two seemingly-coordinated incidences, 26 people were shot and 12 were rushed to the hospital. There are conflicting reports about the total number of deaths as some sources say as many as 16 were immediately killed at the sites.
Rivers state police public relations officer Nnamdi Omoni said, “The commissioner of police, Ahmed Zaki, has also launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted.”
As of yet, no individuals or groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks.
One month ago, suicide bombers killed at least 13 people and injured another 53 in an attack on a public market in northeast Borno state. Boko Haram claimed responsibility. In two unclaimed attacks in late November, a detonated suicide bomber killed at least 50 worshipers at a mosque in eastern Nigeria and 11 herdsmen were gunned down in Nigeria’s northern region earlier that month.
Though the New Year's shootings are unclaimed, Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009.