At least 50 congregants have been killed after suspected terrorists attacked St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, in the early hours of Sunday.
The heavily-armed attackers invaded the church and shot continuously into the crowd of worshippers present during the church’s early morning service.
Sources who spoke to FIJ said the invaders also made use of both guns and explosive devices during the attack.
Children were also said to be among the church members killed.
The church is also said to be very close to the Olowo of Owo’s palace.
“They made use of IEDs when they attacked the church. They shot at many people within the premises. My cousin was shot in the leg during the attack. She has been rushed to the hospital,” said a member of the church, who asked not to be named.
“My grandmother was quite lucky because she was among the first people to leave the church as soon as the service came to an end. The service had actually ended when the men attacked.
“As soon as they began shooting and making use of explosives, the members that were still within the church hall quickly shut the doors. The people that were mostly attacked were the members that had already left the premises.
“The dead have been taken to the morgue while the injured are receiving treatment in various hospitals.”
Most of the corpses have been moved out of the church while many casualties are also said to be lying at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo.
Responding to the attack, Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State Governor, described it as a “calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo”.
“I am deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St. Francis Catholic Church, today,” he said.
“It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.”
“I have equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.”
Funmilayo Odunlami, the Ondo State Police spokesperson said the command was yet to ascertain the cause or who was behind the attack.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.