Nigerian church massacre victims suffer injuries

Nigerian church massacre victims suffer injuries

A doctor at the local hospital said on Monday that a range of weapons were being used by the unknown assailants, and victims of an attack on a Catholic church in Nigeria suffered lacerations, bullet wounds and blast injuries.

At least 50 people including children were killed in the attack on St Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo, which took place during Sunday mass, according to media reports. A death toll has yet to be released by the police.

Some 27 adult victims were receiving treatment in his department, some for life-threatening injuries, according to Dr Samuel Aluko, a registrar at the hospital. He said one woman had lost both legs.

He said the children were being treated elsewhere in the hospital, but he had no information about them.

Owo is located in Ondo State in southwest Nigeria, a part of the country that does not usually experience violent conflict over religion. The authorities haven't given any information about who carried out Sunday's atrocity and why.

The town was quiet on Monday, with many shops remaining closed. Security forces were visible on the streets, and helicopters passed overhead.

Nigeria has a lot of problems with violence and criminality in several areas, including Islamist insurgencies in the northeast, mass abductions for ransom in the northwest and crude oil smuggling in the far south. The massacre of Owo did not fit into any of the common categories.

The Yoruba ethnic group is split roughly equally between Muslims and Christians, which is why the southwest is home to them. The two communities usually cohabit peacefully.

An Owo resident said that some local people blamed the church massacre on members of the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, who are predominantly Muslim and live mostly in northern Nigeria, with communities in other regions. There was no official confirmation of this rumour.

The resident, who did not wish to be named because of safety fears, said some local youths had wanted to launch a reprisal attack against Hausa-Fulani residents, but elders had managed to calm them down.

Pope Francis and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari were among those who expressed horror at the massacre.

There have been repeated outbreaks of violence between Muslims and Christians in other parts of Nigeria, including killings in churches and mosques.

Human rights groups that have looked at such incidents in depth have often found underlying factors other than religion, such as conflicts between farmers and herders that overlap with ethnic and religious divides.