More than 50 feared killed in attack on church in Nigeria, officials say

More than 50 feared killed in attack on church in Nigeria, officials say

Dozens of worshipers were killed after gunmen opened fire and detonated explosives at a Catholic church in south-west Nigeria on Sunday.

The attackers targeted St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state as believers gathered on Pentecost Sunday, lawmaker Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole said.

Many children were among the dead, he added.

The presiding priest was also kidnapped, said Adelegbe Timileyin, who represents the Owo area in Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber.

“Our hearts are heavy,” Ondo governor Rotimi Akeredolu said on Sunday. “Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people.”

Shoes and personal belongings lie on the blood-soaked ground after the deadly attack

(AP)

Authorities did not immediately release an official death toll, but Mr Timileyin said at least 50 people had been killed, although others had put the number higher.

Videos that appeared to be from the scene of the attack showed churchgoers lying in pools of blood as those around them wailed.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said, according to a statement by his spokesman, “only fiends from the sub-region could have conceived and carried out such a dastardly act.”

“No matter what happens, this country will never give in to evil and evil people, and darkness will never defeat the light. Nigeria will eventually win,” said Mr Buhari, who was elected after promising to end Nigeria’s ongoing security crisis.

In Rome, Pope Francis responded to news of the attack.

“The Pope has learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria, and the deaths of dozens of believers, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost.

The attackers targeted St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state as believers gathered on Pentecost Sunday

(AP)

“As the details are worked out, Pope Francis prays for the victims and the country, hurt at a time of celebration, and entrusts them both to the Lord so that he may send his Spirit to comfort them,” it said in a statement by Das, the Vatican press office said.

It was initially unclear who was behind the attack on the church.

While much of Nigeria struggles with security issues, Ondo is widely known as one of Nigeria’s most peaceful states.

However, the state is embroiled in an increasing violent conflict between farmers and pastoralists.

“In the history of Owo, we have never seen such an ugly incident,” MP Oluwole said. “This is too much.”

Nigerian security forces did not immediately respond to questions about how the attack happened or if there were any leads to suspects.

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