Over 50 Feared Dead in Nigeria Church Attack

ABUJA, Nigeria — Gunmen opened fire on worshippers and detonated explosives at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria on Sunday, leaving dozens feared dead, state lawmakers said.

According to legislator Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole, the attackers attacked the St. Francis Catholic Church of Ondo just as worshippers were gathering on Pentecost Sunday. He said that many of the victims were children.

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

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

The official death toll was not announced by the authorities. Timileyin claimed at least 50 victims had been killed. However, others have suggested that the death toll could be higher. The attack was captured in videos that showed worshippers of churches lying in bloody pools and people struggling to breathe.

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

“No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome light. Nigeria will eventually win,” said Buhari, who was elected after vowing to end Nigeria’s prolonged security crisis.

Pope Francis responded in Rome when he heard about the attack.

“The pope has learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria and the deaths of dozens of worshippers, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost. While the details are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and the country, painfully affected at a time of celebration, and entrusts them both to the Lord so that he may send his spirit to console them,” the pope said in a statement issued by the Vatican press office.

The motive behind the attack against the church was unclear. While much of Nigeria has struggled with security issues, Ondo is widely known as one of Nigeria’s most peaceful states. However, the state has become embroiled in violent conflicts between farmers and herders.

Nigeria’s security forces did not immediately respond to questions about how the attack occurred or if there are any leads about suspects. Owo lies 345 km (215 mi) east Lagos.

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

Read More From Time

Get in touchSend your letters to


Related Articles

Back to top button