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Catholic priest burned to death in northern Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria — A Nigerian priest was burned to death at his home in the north of the country on Sunday, police said.

Reverend Isaac Achi was killed in the Paikoro region of Niger state after gunmen failed to break into his house and set it on fire, said Wasiu Abiodun, the spokesman of the font. A second priest living in the compound escaped with a gunshot wound to the shoulder, he said.

“Unfortunately, the bandits would have tried to enter the residence, which seemed difficult,” so they “set the house on fire” and the Catholic priest was burned alive, Wasiu said.

Nigerian authorities are struggling to stem rising violence in northern and central regions where armed groups are targeting rural communities, killing thousands and kidnapping people for ransom. Security forces are often outnumbered and outgunned and suspects are rarely detained, residents said.

Attacks sometimes target religious figures such as clerics. In July last year, Reverend John Mark Chietnum was killed after being kidnapped in the northwestern state of Kaduna.

Sunday’s incident drew international condemnation. In a statement, Antonio Tajani, Italy’s foreign minister, called the attack “cowardly and inhuman”.

Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello said the killing showed no one was safe. “These terrorists have lost it and drastic action is needed to end this ongoing carnage,” he said.

The Christian Association of Nigeria called on authorities to investigate and do more to protect civilians. “Enough of the wanton attacks and killings of innocent Nigerian citizens,” said Bulus Yohanna, president of the association.

Associated Press reporter Frances D’Emilio in Rome, Italy contributed.

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