Nigeria: More than 50 feared dead as gunmen attack Catholic church | World News


More than 50 people are feared dead after gunmen opened fire on worshippers at a Catholic church in Nigeria.

The attackers targeted the St Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo in the southwestern state of Ondo just as worshippers gathered on Pentecost Sunday, state politician Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole said.

Authorities did not immediately release an official death toll, but Mr Oluwole said many children were among the dead.

Adelegbe Timileyin, who represents the Owo area in Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber, said at least 50 people had been killed, though others put the figure higher.

Pic: Rahaman A Yusuf/AP
Pic: Rahaman A Yusuf/AP

Mr Timileyin added that the church’s priest was also abducted.

Videos appearing to be from the scene of the attack showed worshippers lying in pools of blood while people around them wailed.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

‘Our hearts are heavy’

The state’s governor Rotimi Akeredolu said he was shocked by the attack, adding: “Our peace and tranquillity have been attacked by the enemies of the people”.

In a statement, Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari said: “Only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act.”

The president was elected after vowing to end Nigeria’s prolonged security crisis.

Pope Francis prays for victims

The Vatican said Pope Francis was “praying for the victims and the country painfully affected at a time of celebration”.

St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo. Pic: Rahaman A Yusuf/AP
Pic: Rahaman A Yusuf/AP

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

The town of Owo is around 214 miles (345km) east of the country’s capital, Lagos.


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