Nigeria Catholic church massacre: At least 50 people killed by gunmen during Sunday mass

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  • At least 50 people, including women and children, were killed when gunmen attacked a Catholic church in Nigeria during Sunday mass.
  • The identities and motive of the attackers were not immediately clear.
  • Nigeria is battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast, but attacks such as this in the southwest are rare.


LAGOS – Gunmen attacked a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria during mass on Sunday, killing at least 50 people including women and children, according to a hospital doctor and media reports.

The gunmen shot at people outside and inside the church building, killing and injuring worshippers, said Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, police spokesperson for Ondo state.

Blood-stained floor after attack by gunmen at chur
Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (3rd L) points to the blood-stained floor after an attack by gunmen at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town, southwest Nigeria on 5 June 2022.

She did not say how many people were killed or injured at St Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo, but added that police were investigating the motive for the attack.

Ondo state Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the attack and injured persons in hospital, described Sunday's incident as "a great massacre" that should not be allowed to happen again.

The identity and motive of the attackers was not immediately clear.

Catholic Church spokesperson in Nigeria, Reverend Augustine Ikwu, said: 

It is so sad that while the holy mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church...leaving many feared dead and many others injured and the church violated.

Ikwu said the bishop and priests from the parish had survived the attack unharmed.

A doctor at a hospital in Owo told Reuters that at least 50 bodies had been brought into two hospitals in the town from the attack. The doctor, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the press, also said there was a need for blood donations to treat the injured.

President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack, calling it "heinous", and the Vatican said Pope Francis was praying for the victims who had been "painfully stricken in a moment of celebration".

Nigeria is battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and armed gangs who carry out attacks and kidnappings for ransom, mostly in the northwest.

In the southwest, attacks such as this are rare.



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