At least 50 people, many of them children, are feared dead after gunmen shot at worshippers and detonated explosives at a church in southwestern Nigeria on Pentecost Sunday.
Legislator Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole said the attackers descended upon St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state just as people started to gather for worship.
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Bishop Jude Arogundade of the Ondo Diocese said gunmen invaded the church while other gunmen outside also killed churchgoers who were fleeing in terror.
A priest was also reportedly abducted.
Adelegbe Timileyin, who represents the Owo area, said at least 50 were killed during that attack, however, that number is likely to rise.
Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu tweeted that the assailants “will be hunted down and they will pay for their crimes.”
“I am deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St. Francis Catholic Church, Today,” he said in a separate tweet.
“The vile & satanic attack is a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.”
In Rome, Pope Francis offered his condolences to the victims and their family members.
“The pope has learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria and the deaths of dozens of worshippers, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost. While the details are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and the country, painfully affected at a time of celebration, and entrusts them both to the Lord so that he may send his Spirit to console them,” the pope said in a statement.
CBN News previously reported that attacks against Christians throughout Nigeria have escalated over the past few years.
The Islamic State (IS) group released a video last month claiming to show the murders of some 20 Christians in northeast Nigeria’s Borno State.
In March, Fulani herdsmen reportedly killed 50 Christians and abducted a Catholic priest in Kaduna state.
And Islamic terrorists are suspected of killing 32 Christians and two soldiers in the town of Kagoro, Kaura on March 20.
Open Doors’ World Watchlist lists Nigeria as number 7 of the countries in the world where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
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