Gunmen kill ‘many’ believers in attack on Catholic church in Nigeria

Gunmen with explosives stormed a Catholic church on Sunday and opened fire in southwestern Nigeria, killing “many” worshipers and injuring others, the government and police said.

Violence at the St. Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo, Ondo state, broke out during the morning shift in a rare attack in southwestern Nigeria, where jihadists and criminal gangs are active in other regions.

“While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis is praying for the victims and for the country,” he said.

The motives and exact death toll were not immediately clear, but President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the “gruesome murder of believers”.

“It is premature to say exactly how many people have died. But many believers were killed while others were injured in the attack,” she told AFP.

But a witness, who gave his name as Abayomi, told AFP that at least 20 believers had been killed in the attack.

“I was walking through the area when I heard a loud explosion and gunfire in the church,” he said.

Oluwarotimi State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu said Sunday’s attack was a “horrific and satanic attack” and called on security forces to track down the attackers.

Security will be a major challenge for whoever wins the race to rule Africa’s most populous country and the continent’s largest economy.

Parts of northwestern and north-central Nigeria, in particular, are increasingly plagued by heavily armed gangs raiding villages and attacking communities and schools in mass kidnapping attacks.

Originally published as Gunmen Kill ‘Many’ Believers in Nigerian Catholic Church Attack

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