Presumed jihadists stormed a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria Sunday and opened fire on worshipers, killing at least 50 and wounding dozens more.
The attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo in Ondo State took place in the morning when the faithful had gathered for Mass to celebrate Pentecost, a commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles after Christ’s ascension into heaven.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9
“We were about to round off service. I had even asked people to start leaving, that was how we started hearing gunshots from different angles,” said Father Andrew Abayomi, one of the priests at St. Francis Church.
“We hid inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened. We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church and rushed victims to the hospital,” the priest said.
In response to the attack, Pope Francis offered his condolences and prayers “for the victims and for the country.”
An initial report from State police spokeswoman Ibukun Odunlami suggested the militants also set off explosives during the attack. While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the targeting of Christians strongly suggests Islamic extremists were behind the assault.
Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu called the incident a “vile and satanic attack” on innocent people and appealed for calm, urging people not to take the law into their own hands.
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