State officials walk past injured victims on hospital beds being treated for wounds after being attacked by gunmen at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town, southwest Nigeria on June 5, 2022. PHOTO AFP LAGOS gunmen attack 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.
Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, police spokesperson for Ondo state, said gunmen shot at people outside and inside the church building, killing and wounding people.
She said police were investigating the cause of the attack, but she did not say how many people were killed or injured at St Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo.
Ondo State Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the attack and injured persons in the 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.
It is so sad that unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church while the Holy Mass was going on. The Church spokesman in Nigeria, Reverend Augustine Ikwu, said that many were feared dead and many others injured and the Church violated.
Ikwu said the bishop and priests of the parish had survived the attack unharmed.
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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 speak to the press because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said there was a need for blood donations to treat the injured.
President Muhammadu Buhari called the attack 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.