LAGOS: Gunmen killed a minimum of 21 folks, together with kids, in an assault on a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria on Sunday, native officers mentioned, in violence that drew widespread worldwide condemnation.
The bloodshed at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo city throughout a service was a uncommon assault in Nigeria’s normally safer southwest and shocked a rustic grown used to of mass kidnappings within the north.
Richard Olatunde, spokesman for the Ondo State governor’s workplace, instructed that dynamite exploded contained in the church earlier than gunmen opened hearth on worshippers attending the service. Blood stains nonetheless marked the St. Francis church flooring and particles lay scattered round a day after the assault.
“They didn’t even enter the church, they have been taking pictures by way of the home windows,” Olatunde mentioned, confirming a dying toll of 21 folks. Nationwide Emergency Administration Company native consultant Olanrewaju Kadiri mentioned 22 folks have been killed, together with a number of kids, with one other 40 folks wounded. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo arrived on Monday to go to a few of the wounded.
Survivors described panic as worshippers fled a sudden outburst of gunshots. “I ran again to the church and I noticed my two kids and we introduced them right here to the federal medical centre,” Nzeadu Paulinus, a neighborhood resident who was away from the church when the taking pictures began and whose two kids have been wounded. “I noticed so many individuals who have been wounded, and the useless.”
The state authorities declared a seven-day mourning interval for the victims, and ordered the nationwide flag to be flown at half-mast in Ondo. No group has thus far claimed duty for the assault and the motives weren’t clear. One witness instructed he noticed a minimum of 5 gunmen on the church premises. “I used to be passing by way of the world after I heard a loud explosion and gunshots contained in the church,” the witness, who gave his title as Abayomi, instructed.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned Sunday’s “heinous killing of worshippers” whereas Pope Francis provided prayers for the victims. The UN Particular Consultant for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, condemned what he known as a “barbaric terrorist assault”.
The assault got here a day earlier than the ruling APC get together began primaries for its candidate within the 2023 election to switch Buhari, a former military commander who steps down after two phrases in workplace. Safety can be a significant problem for whoever wins the race to manipulate Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest financial system.