Nigeria Church Attack
Gunmen with explosives stormed St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo town in Ondo State, Nigeria on Pentecost Sunday and opened fire, killing at least 50 people including women and children.
According to police authorities, the assailants approached the church during a service and started shooting from outside the church, while four others shot directly into the church. They also detonated explosives.
Authorities say they have ordered the immediate deployment of an armed and specialized police to the area to restore normalcy and fortify the entire community.
It is not clear whether these armed groups have infiltrated the southwest, and carried out the attack but there have been several attacks between local farmers and cattle herders in that area.
In Nigeria, pastoral land scarcity compounded by increasing urbanization has forced herders onto farmlands and restricted areas, such as national parks and conserved forests. This often leads to the destruction of crops and ends up snowballing into a conflict between the herders and local farmers.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
Security forces say they have ordered a forensic investigation into the attack to investigate the actual or remote causes and for immediate arrest of the assailants as all hands are on deck to forestall any similar attack in any part of the state.
They have also called for flags in Ondo state to be flown at half-mast for seven days, starting from Monday.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said, “only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act. No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome the light. Nigeria will eventually win.”
A statement issued by the Vatican read: “Pope Francis prays for the victims and the country, painfully affected at a time of celebration, and entrusts them both to the Lord so that he may send his spirit to console them.”