Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members opened fire on Muslim worshipers outside the home of a controversial cleric in Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least one person and wounding others, the military and residents said.
The attack in the northeastern city of Potiskum occurred outside the cleric’s home, where he leads prayers on Sunday evenings, but it was not clear whether he was there at the time of the shooting.
Residents said he was present and unharmed, but the military said he was out of town.
The cleric is known to be critical of Islamist group Boko Haram, but has also criticised a military task force in the area over a recent attack that destroyed the city’s cattle market and left at least 34 people dead.
“Some unknown gunmen attacked Shia worshippers this evening, killing one and injuring four others,” Colonel Dahiru Abdussalam, commander of the task force, told AFP.
“Soldiers and policemen deployed to the area and cordoned it off with the hope of finding the attackers.”
Residents and a nurse spoke of two dead and five wounded, saying the cleric’s brother and driver were killed.
“It was around 6:30 when the cleric was leading his followers in evening prayers,” one resident said.
“Gunmen came in four cars … Apparently the cleric was the target, but they mistook his brother for him because of their resemblance. They shot him dead and his driver was also killed.”
The resident said “the attackers then opened fire on the worshippers … The gunmen then entered their cars and drove off.”
A nurse at a Potiskum hospital later confirmed two dead bodies were brought in along with five wounded victims, all with gunshot wounds.
Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009. Nigeria’s military has also been accused of abuses amid the insurgency, including the killing of civilians and the burning of their homes.