However, police believe that a man the gunmen were hunting for was not present in the church and so escaped the attack.
The attackers struck the church in Ozubulu early in the morning. They were believed to have been trying to kill a local man, who was not identified by the authorities.
Nigeria’s southeast is predominantly Christian and the attack is a rare act of violence at a church.
Ethnically-charged violence is common throughout the central states and militancy is a constant threat in the oil-rich southeast.