ABUJA, Nigeria — Gunmen opened hearth on worshippers and detonated explosives at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria on Sunday, leaving dozens feared dead, state lawmakers mentioned.
The attackers focused the St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state simply because the worshippers gathered on Pentecost Sunday, legislator Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole mentioned. Among the dead had been many youngsters, he mentioned.
The presiding priest was kidnapped as properly, mentioned Adelegbe Timileyin, who represents the Owo space in Nigeria’s decrease legislative chamber.
“Our hearts are heavy,” Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu tweeted Sunday. “Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the individuals.”
Authorities didn’t instantly launch an official loss of life toll. Timileyin mentioned no less than 50 individuals had been killed, although others put the determine greater. Videos showing to be from the scene of the assault confirmed church worshippers mendacity in swimming pools of blood whereas individuals round them wailed.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari mentioned “solely fiends from the nether area might have conceived and carried out such dastardly act,” based on a press release from his spokesman.
“No matter what, this nation shall by no means give in to evil and depraved individuals, and darkness won’t ever overcome mild. Nigeria will ultimately win,” mentioned Buhari, who was elected after vowing to finish Nigeria’s extended safety disaster.
In Rome, Pope Francis responded to information of the assault.
“The pope has realized of the assault on the church in Ondo, Nigeria and the deaths of dozens of worshippers, many youngsters, through the celebration of Pentecost. While the small print are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and the nation, painfully affected at a time of celebration, and entrusts them each to the Lord in order that he could ship his spirit to console them,” the pope mentioned in a press release issued by the Vatican press workplace.
It was not instantly clear who was behind the assault on the church. While a lot of Nigeria has struggled with safety points, Ondo is broadly often called certainly one of Nigeria’s most peaceable states. The state, although, has been caught up in a rising violent battle between farmers and herders.
Nigeria’s safety forces didn’t instantly reply to questions on how the assault occurred or if there are any leads about suspects. Owo is about 345 kilometers (215 miles) east of Lagos.
“In the historical past of Owo, we now have by no means skilled such an unsightly incident,” mentioned lawmaker Oluwole. “This is an excessive amount of.”