Gunmen kill ‘many’ worshippers in Nigeria church attack

By AFP

Violence at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town erupted during the morning service in a rare attack in the southwest of Nigeria – Copyright POOL/AFP Frank Augstein

Gunmen with explosives stormed a Catholic church and opened fire in southwest Nigeria’s Ondo state on Sunday, killing “many” worshippers and wounding others, the government and police said.

The violence at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town erupted during the morning service in a rare attack in the southwest of Nigeria, where jihadists and criminal gangs operate in other parts of the country.

Pope Francis said in a statement he had learned of the “death of dozens of faithful”, many children, during the celebration of the Christian holiday of the Pentecost.

“While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country,” he added.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The motives and the exact death toll were not immediately clear, but President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the “heinous killing of worshipers”.

State police spokeswoman Ibukun Odunlami said the gunmen attacked the church with explosives, leaving an unknown number of worshipers dead.

“It’s still premature to say exactly how many people were killed. But many worshipers lost their lives while others were injured in the attack,” she told AFP.

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