Nigerian forces trying to find gunmen who killed 50 in church assault

The gunmen who killed 50 individuals at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria opened fireplace on worshippers each inside and outdoors the constructing in a co-ordinated assault earlier than escaping the scene, authorities and witnesses mentioned Monday.

Though Nigerian safety forces haven’t but recognized who carried out Sunday’s assault on St. Francis Church within the city of Owo in comparatively peaceable Ondo state, analysts instructed they got here from elsewhere within the West African nation, which is stricken by violence from varied armed teams, kidnappers and extremists.

Nobody has claimed accountability for the church killings, through which youngsters had been among the many useless and the gunmen detonated some sort of explosive. Scores of individuals had been wounded, though a precise quantity was not launched by overwhelmed hospital staff.

A state lawmaker from the area mentioned the demise toll was at the very least 50, and scores of individuals had been wounded, though a precise quantity was not launched by overwhelmed hospital staff.

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“The assault is undoubtedly terrorist in nature, and the size and brutality suggests it was fastidiously deliberate somewhat than impulsive,” mentioned Eric Humphery-Smith, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft threat intelligence firm.

nigeria church attack
Folks go to victims of the assault as they obtain remedy on the St. Louis Catholic hospital in Owo, Nigeria, on Monday. (Sunday Alamba/The Related Press)

State Police Commissioner Oyeyemi Oyediran mentioned safety forces, together with the army, pursued the attackers, “however sadly, we couldn’t meet up with them.”

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and different authorities officers visited the church Monday. A day earlier, he pledged that “we are going to hold standing in opposition to evil, and Nigeria will win.”

Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation with 206 million individuals, has grappled for over a decade with an insurgency within the northeast by Islamic extremist rebels of Boko Haram and its offshoot, the Islamic State West Africa Province. The extremists, who’ve killed greater than 35,000 individuals by a UN depend, are preventing to ascertain Shariah legislation and to cease Western training.

Celebrating Pentecost

Ondo, nonetheless, has lengthy been thought-about one of many safer states within the nation.

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Sunday Adewale, who works within the palace of the native chief, mentioned the gunmen used the aspect of shock to their benefit.

“Everyone felt relaxed and had gone to church,” he mentioned. “Inside half-hour, they did what they needed and went away.”

The assault got here as worshippers had been celebrating the feast of Pentecost, an vital Catholic post-Easter vacation. Bishop Jude Arogundade mentioned some gunmen entered the church whereas others stayed exterior to shoot anybody who fled.

nigeria church attack

The priest celebrating the mass was giving the blessing to finish the service when the attackers got here in and opened fireplace, mentioned John Nwovo, 35, who added that he narrowly escaped along with his 5 youngsters by operating and hiding within the church’s vestry, together with greater than 30 individuals.

“We needed to pack ourselves inside that place to take refuge from the storm,” he mentioned.

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Florence Obi mentioned her sister, Stella Nzelu, fled the church after the capturing and the explosion, solely to run into one of many exterior gunmen, “who shot her within the abdomen at shut vary.” Obi mentioned her sister underwent surgical procedure to take away the bullet and “she is feeling higher now.”

Steven Omotayo, who lives close by, heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene.

“I noticed a number of useless our bodies — each younger and previous, even youngsters,” he mentioned. “The individuals got here in and began capturing from the gate.”

He mentioned the church has three entrances and the principle entrance was mentioned to have been locked, making it troublesome for a lot of to flee.

“They had been simply capturing. In the event that they see anybody attempting to flee or get up, they’ll simply shoot the individual,” he mentioned. 


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