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Catholic church attack kills dozens in otherwise peaceful part of Nigeria

Jun 06, 2022

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According to a local lawmaker, at least 50 people including children were killed in a weekend attack on a Catholic church in Nigeria. On Monday, church officials and witnesses said attackers opened fire on worshippers inside the church while other gunmen waited outside to kill those who tried to flee.

“It’s quite unbelievable that somebody would come and the intention was to kill everybody in that church. And those [who] are running out they were being shot from outside, those who inside were being shot from inside,” Ondo Diocese Bishop Jude Arogundade said Sunday. “They threw dynamite to blow up the altar down to the sanctuary. This kind of desecration is, can only be done by the evil.”

The attack began as worshippers were attending Pentecost Sunday Mass at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo. The state, located in the southwestern part of Nigera, has long been considered one of the most peaceful states in the country.

“I saw people running helter skelter in the town and saying, ‘They are coming, they are coming.’ So I was trying to look for the shortest part to get back to the parish,” Father Vincent Anadi said Monday. “It was in that instance that I saw two of my altar servers, who stopped me and said, ‘Father, father, father, stop, stop. Don’t go to the parish. They are killing people in the parish.’ And I said, ‘which people?’ They said, ‘They don’t know.’”

As of early Monday morning, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Local authorities said the gunmen had not been captured.

“A team pursued the assailants along with the military but unfortunately, we could not catch up with them,” Ondo State Police Commissioner Oyeyemi Oyediran said. He added that security forces were “on top of the situation.”

Hospital workers struggled to treat scores of wounded following the attack. The Nigeria Medical Association in Ondo directed all available doctors to head to the hospitals to offer any help.

“At a stage, even the blood got exhausted at our blood bank and we had to be pleading for blood,” a doctor at the Federal Medical Center in Owo who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said.

Arogundade emphasized that plea, saying, “[We] need blood for them, as many people that are within the hospital environment should come and please assist.”

Shannon Longworth: THIS IS THE DAMAGE LEFT BEHIND AFTER ATTACKERS OPENED FIRE INSIDE A CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NIGERIA OVER THE WEEKEND.
EARLIER TODAY — CHURCH OFFICIALS SAID AS THE THE ATTACK WAS HAPPENING — MORE GUNMEN WAITED OUTSIDE TO KILL THOSE WHO TRIED TO FLEE.
Father Vincent Anadi | Parish Priest at St. Francis Catholic Church: “I saw people running helter skelter in the town and saying, ‘they are coming, they are coming.’ So I was trying to look for the shortest part to get back to the parish. It was in that instance that I saw two of my altar servers, who stopped me and said, ‘Father, father, father, stop, stop. Don’t go to the parish. They are killing people in the parish.’ And I said, ‘which people?’ They said, ‘they don’t know.’”
Shannon Longworth: AS OF EARLIER THIS MORNING — THE GUNMEN HAVE NOT BEEN CAUGHT — AND NO ONE’S CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ATTACK.
WHILE NORTHERN NIGERIA HAS BATTLED AN ISLAMIC INSURGENCY FOR MORE THAN 13 YEARS -THE ATTACK HAPPENED IN THE SOUTHWESTERN PART OF THE COUNTRY – WHICH HAS LONG BEEN CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MOST PEACEFUL REGIONS.


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