Even though experts are skeptical of the claim, the Nigerian government has blamed an armed gang affiliated to ISIL for a church attack that killed dozens of worshipers.
According to Nigerian officials, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) was responsible for Sunday’s horrific bomb and gun attack in Owo town, Ondo state, which killed at least 40 churchgoers.
Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola made the charge to the press during a National Security Council meeting in Abuja on Thursday. The armed forces are on the lookout for the criminals, according to the minister.
Nevertheless, the armed group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack on Sunday morning, which observers say is odd given ISWAP is notorious for rapidly claiming responsibility for previous acts of violence.
“I think we should be prudent,” Vincent Foucher, a research fellow at the National Centre for Scientific Research, told Al Jazeera. “It is better not to pin it on them too quickly because they usually claim and they usually claim quite fast.”
ISWAP is blamed for multiple tragic occurrences in Nigeria’s northeast, which is their main operating area.
However, the armed gang has since increased its attacks to other areas.
ISWAP claimed responsibility for an attack on a cultural festival in Kogi state last month, as well as a blast in Taraba state that killed 30 people.