People have been killed by gunmen during a Pentecostal feast on Sunday at a Catholic church in Nigeria. The attack was condemned by President Mohammed Bukhari as a “brutal murder of believers” and was not claimed, usually during a morning service at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo (southwest), Ondo State. Protected by jihadists and criminal gangs operating in other parts of the country.
Nigerian authorities have not yet established the exact number of homicides. “It is still too early to say exactly how many people were killed. But many worshipers lost their lives and others were injured in the attack, ”state police spokesman Ibukun Odunlami told AFP.
One witness, who gave only his first name, Abiomi, told the AFP that at least 20 worshipers had been killed in the attack. “As I was passing through the neighborhood, I heard a loud explosion and gunfire inside the church,” he said.
He said he saw at least five armed men inside the church before fleeing.
The attack is described as “despicable and satanic”
“The pope was aware of the attack on the Ondo church in Nigeria and the death of dozens of believers, including many children, during the Pentecostal celebrations,” the Vatican news service said in a statement. . “When the details of the incident are clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and the nation, who suffered in agony during the celebration, and entrusts them to the Lord so that he sends his spirit to comfort them.”
In his statement, Ondo Governor Oluvarodimi Agredolu called on the security forces to find the perpetrators of this “hateful and satanic attack”.
A state police spokesman said they attacked the church with guns and ammunition.
Rare attacks in the southwestern part of the country
The attack comes ahead of the ruling APC’s launch of its primary committees ahead of the 2023 presidential election, to oust the successor to former army chief Mohammed Buhari, who will step down after two terms.
Security is a major challenge in Africa’s most populous country and the continent’s largest economy. Attacks on religious sites are particularly sensitive in Nigeria, where tensions sometimes erupt between Christian-majority communities in the south and Muslim-majority communities in the north.
However, this type of attack is rare in the relatively quiet southwest of the country. On the other hand, the Nigerian military faces many scars of insecurity in other parts of the country. A jihadi insurgency in the Northeast has been raging for 12 years, with gangs of robbers and kidnappers terrorizing the Northwest and the Center, and a scene of separatist movements in the South East. Boko Haram, a jihadist group in the northeast of the country, has already targeted churches during a conflict that killed 40,000 people and displaced 2 million in Nigeria.
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