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More than 50 killed in massacre at Catholic church on Pentecost Sunday in southwest Nigeria

Gunmen attacked a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria during mass on Sunday, killing at least 50 people including women and children, according to a hospital doctor and media reports. The gunmen shot at people outside and inside the church building, killing and injuries worshippers, said Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, police spokesperson for Ondo state.


Several Nigerian news outlets said gunmen had fired at worshippers and detonated explosives at St Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo.

The identity and motive of the attackers were not immediately clear.

Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, police spokesperson for Ondo state, said police would issue a further statement soon.

"It is so sad that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church… leaving many feared dead and many others injured and the church violated," said Catholic church spokesman in Nigeria, Reverend Augustine Ikwu.

Reverend Ikwu said the bishop and priests from the parish had survived the attack unharmed.

Ondo state Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the attack and injured persons in hospital, described Sunday's incident as "a great massacre" that should not be allowed to happen again.

The identity and motive of the attackers was not immediately clear.

"It is so sad that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church...leaving many feared dead and many others injured and the Church violated," said Catholic Church spokesman in Nigeria, Reverend Augustine Ikwu.

Ikwu said the bishop and priests from the parish had survived the attack unharmed.


President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack, calling it "heinous", and the Vatican said Pope Francis was praying for the victims who had been "painfully stricken in a moment of celebration".

Nigeria is battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and armed gangs who carry out attacks and kidnappings for ransom, mostly in the northwest.



 

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