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Christian leader gunned down by Islamic militants in Nigeria

A Nigerian Christian leader was killed when suspected Muslim militants burst into his home and shot him, as the religious fighting in Africa’s most populous nation continues to worsen.

Two members of Islamic militant group Boko Haram shot Faye Pama Mysa, a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, in his home Wednesday, according to multiple reports. The attack came just after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency because of ongoing attacks.

“The Borno CAN secretary has been killed,” CAN spokesman Kenny Asaka told the BNL news service. “We've got the report and the national president received it with heavy heart. It is very sad.”

Jonathan had earlier called the state of emergency to address “systematic effort by insurgents and terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective resolve,” referring to a surge in violence that threatens to engulf northern and central Nigeria. The violence has given rise to widespread concern Boko Haram could be on the verge of seizing control of the state.”

The murder of Mysa is likely to stoke tensions between Christians and Muslims, which were already at a breaking point after southern militants threatened to unleash a "crusade" against Boko Haram, the Muslim group behind a recent attack last month in which 185 people were killed.

The group that vowed to launch a campaign against the Islamists is a coalition of armed groups that includes political and religious activists as well as criminal gangs that has waged an insurgency in the region, the center of Nigeria's oil production, since 2005.

Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sacrilege." Christians have been a major target of Boko Haram and its offshoots, as scores of churches have been bombed or burned since the Islamists, who have links to Al Qaeda, launched their insurgency in 2009 in the predominantly Muslim north.