Nigeria: Dozens Feared Dead After Gunmen Attack Church

According to local reports, the attackers entered a Catholic church in Ondo state and opened fire on worshippers.

Gunmen have killed several worshippers in a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria, the state governor said on Sunday.

Anakunrin Akeredolu, the governor of the Ondo state, condemned the “vile and satanic” attack on the St. Francis Church, vowing to capture the assailants and achieve justice.

“I urge our people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies. I have equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom,” Akeredolu tweeted.

Adelegbe Timileyin, representative of Ondo’s Owo area in the country’s lower legislative chamber, said the church’s presiding priest was abducted during the attack. The lawmaker also put the death toll at over 50 people.

What happened during the attack?

The assailants stormed the church in the midst of the Sunday service, opening fire at the worshippers, local media reported. Some explosives were also used, but initial reports suggest the majority of injuries were due to gunshots.

The victims reportedly included members of the congregation, as well as children.

The identities of the perpetrators, who fled the scene shortly after the attack, have yet to be confirmed. Local reports have pointed the finger at Fulani Herdsmen, suggesting members of the nomadic group carried out the attack to send a message to the governor.

Akeredolu’s recent policies have been seen as restrictive to the herdsmen’s activities in the state of Ondo.

Although Nigeria has witnessed acts of violence in recent years, such incidents have mostly centred in the northwest of Africa’s most populous country. The southwest — and Ondo state in particular — is regarded as a place of relative peace and calm.

more to come…

rmt/rt (Reuters, AP)

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