The 2018 new year got off to a violent start as 16 Christians were randomly gunned down as they were leaving Church in Nigeria according to a recent report:

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed at least 16 Christians following a New Year’s Day church service in Nigeria.

BBC News reported Tuesday that the attack occurred in the oil-rich region of Rivers state, which has seen heightened tensions between rival gangs.

The Nigerian Independent reported that the gunmen opened fire at random early Monday morning on people leaving the church who had gone to welcome in the New Year, though there were conflicting reports on the number of casualties.

At least 12 others are believed to have been hospitalized following the shootings.

The public relations officer of the command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, responded to the incident, stating, “The deputy commissioner of police in charge of operation and other tactical heads have been mobilized there to restore peace.”

Omoni added, “The Commissioner of Police (Ahmed Zaki) has launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted.

“When the DCP and the teams there conclude we will know the total number of people involved.”

BBC noted that at first, residents in Omuku town had difficulty distinguishing the gunshots from the firework celebrations.

The town is known for its violent crimes, and has seen an increase of violence this past year, with militants aiming to control a greater share of the oil-producing region.

While it is not yet clear whether the attack on the church was connected to the oil conflict, Christians in Nigeria suffered violently at the hands of different groups in 2017. (source, source)

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