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At least 50 killed in massacre at Catholic church in southwest Nigeria

At least 50 killed in massacre at Catholic church in southwest Nigeria

Monday, June 06, 2022, 09:41 GMT+7
At least 50 killed in massacre at Catholic church in southwest Nigeria
Relatives of churchgoers who were attacked by gunmen during Sunday's church service gather as health workers attend to victims brought in by ambulance after the attack at St. Francis Catholic Church, in Owo, Nigeria June 5, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Gunmen attacked a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria during mass on Sunday, killing at least 50 people including women and children, according to a hospital doctor and media reports.

The gunmen shot at people outside and inside the church building, killing and injuring worshippers, said Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, police spokesperson for Ondo state.

She did not say how many people were killed or injured at St Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo but added police were investigating the cause of the attack.

Ondo state Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the attack and injured persons in hospital, described Sunday's incident as "a great massacre" that should not be allowed to happen again.

Victims of the bomb attack during a Catholic mass at St. Francis Catholic church receive treatment at St. Louis Catholic Hospital, in Owo, Nigeria, June 5, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Victims of the bomb attack during a Catholic mass at St. Francis Catholic church receive treatment at St. Louis Catholic Hospital, in Owo, Nigeria, June 5, 2022. Photo: Reuters

The identity and motive of the attackers was not immediately clear.

"It is so sad that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church...leaving many feared dead and many others injured and the Church violated," said Catholic Church spokesman in Nigeria, Reverend Augustine Ikwu.

Ikwu said the bishop and priests from the parish had survived the attack unharmed.

A doctor at a hospital in Owo told Reuters that at least 50 bodies had been brought into two hospitals in the town from the attack. The doctor, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the press, also said there was a need for blood donations to treat the injured.

Security men guard Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as he visits the victims of a bomb attack at St. Francis Catholic church, in Owo, Nigeria, June 5, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Security men guard Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as he visits the victims of a bomb attack at St. Francis Catholic church, in Owo, Nigeria, June 5, 2022. Photo: Reuters

President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack, calling it "heinous", and the Vatican said Pope Francis was praying for the victims who had been "painfully stricken in a moment of celebration".

Nigeria is battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and armed gangs who carry out attacks and kidnappings for ransom, mostly in the northwest.

In the southwest, attacks such as this are rare.

Reuters

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