According to a hospital doctor and media accounts, gunmen attacked a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria during mass on Sunday, killing at least 50 people, including women and children.
According to Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, the police spokesperson for Ondo state, the gunmen shot at individuals outside and inside the church structure, killing and injuring worshippers.
She did not indicate how many people were murdered or injured at St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, but she did state that police were looking into the attack’s cause.
Ondo state governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited the attack site and injured victims in hospitals, denounced the attack as a “huge massacre” that should not be repeated.
The assailants’ identity and motivation were not immediately known.
Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is escorted by security personnel as he meets the victims of a bomb assault at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo.
Relatives of churchgoers who were gunned down by gunmen during a church service on Sunday gather as medical personnel treat the victims at St. Francis Catholic Church.
Victims of the bombing at St. Francis Catholic Church during a Catholic service are treated at St. Louis Catholic Hospital in Owo.
Relatives of churchgoers attacked by gunmen during a church service on Sunday gather as health personnel attend to wounded brought in by ambulance after the attack at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State.
“It’s extremely tragic that as the Holy Mass was being held, unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church…leaving several feared dead and many others hurt, as well as the Church being violated,” said Reverend Augustine Ikwu, the Catholic Church’s spokesman in Nigeria.
The bishop and priests from the parish, according to Ikwu, were unharmed throughout the attack.
At least 50 dead have been carried into two hospitals in Owo, according to a doctor at one of the town’s hospitals. The doctor, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the press, also stated that blood donations were needed to treat the injured.
President Muhammadu Buhari called the attack “heinous,” and Pope Francis said he was praying for the victims who were “painfully struck in a moment of celebratio.”
Nigeria is fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and armed gangs in the northwest who carry out attacks and kidnappings for ransom.
Such attacks are uncommon in the Southwest.