In an attack on Sunday, gunmen with explosives attacked a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria’s Ondo state and opened fire, killing “many” worshipers and injuring others, according to the government and police.
Rev Father Andrew Abayomi, a priest at St. Francis Catholic sanctuary, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, Ondo State, has described how the church was attacked by terrorists on Sunday.
Churches In Nigeria Must Get Security To Search People Before Entering The Church, Also people That will Giude The church premises With Arms..
Terrorists attack @ St Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State. pic.twitter.com/JMdVqU2ASo
— Reuben chukwukelu (@Reuben58403015) June 5, 2022
The priest told BBC Yoruba that the attackers struck as the day’s ceremony was approaching.
“We were about to round off service,” Rev. Abayomi explained. I had even asked people to start leaving, that was how we started hearing gunshots from different angles.”
“We hid inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened. We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church and rushed victims to the hospital.”
The violence broke out during a morning service at St. Francis Catholic sanctuary in Owo town, in an unusual attack in the southwest of Nigeria, where jihadists and criminal gangs operate in other parts of the country.
Pope Francis’s response to the Church Attack
In a statement, Pope Francis said he had learned of the deaths of dozens of faithful, many youths, during the Christian feast of Pentecost.
“While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country,” he continued.
Any group did not claim the attack.
The grounds for the attack and the actual number of people killed were unknown at the time, but President Muhammadu Buhari decried the heinous massacre of worshippers.
Ibukun Odunlami, a state police spokeswoman, said the attackers used explosives to attack the sanctuary, killing an unknown number of worshippers.
“It’s still premature to say exactly how many people were killed. But many worshippers lost their lives while others were injured in the attack”AFP quoted her as saying.
At least 20 worshippers were killed in the attack, according to a witness named Abayomi.
“I was passing through the area when I heard a loud explosion and gunshots inside the church,” he added.
He claimed he spotted at least five gunmen at the place of worship before fleeing for his life.
In a statement, Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu described the incident as vile and satanic and urged security personnel to apprehend the perpetrators.
In Ondo state and other parts of the southwest, gun, and bomb attacks are uncommon. Still, Nigeria’s military is fighting a 12-year-old Islamic insurgency in the northeast, as well as gangs in the northwest and separatist agitation in the southeast.
Heavily armed gangs have been raiding towns and targeting communities and schools for mass kidnapping attacks in northwest and north-central Nigeria.
For other stories on the Attacks, click here.