The Nigerian government said gunmen killed at least 50 people in an open fire at a Catholic church in the south-west of the country during Sunday mass.
According to Ondo state police spokesman Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, the gunmen were carrying explosives and the cause of the rare attack is under investigation.
Calling the incident a “great massacre”, Ondo State Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu visited the scene of the attack and took the injured to hospital.
Spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Rev. Augustine Ikwu said, “It is so sad that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked St. Francis Catholic Church… leaving many dead and many others injured and the Church violated”.
The attack, which took place on the Christian feast day of Pentecost, was condemned by Pope Francis who said he would pray for the victims and Nigeria.
Denouncing the “heinous killing of worshippers”, President Muhammadu Buhari said the victims would get justice.
Nigeria, where jihadists and criminal gangs operate in other regions, is battling a 12-year-old jihadist insurgency in the northeast.
With a predominantly Christian south and a predominantly Muslim north, attacks on religious sites are particularly sensitive in Nigeria where tensions sometimes erupt between communities.
Massive gun attacks like Sunday’s violence are rare in the country’s relatively peaceful southwest, although kidnappings are common in most parts of Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country. and the largest economy on the continent.
(With agency contributions)
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Post expires at 3:17am on Thursday June 16th, 2022