Gunmen mask as worshippers, murder over 35 in Ondo church

Unknown gunmen attacked the Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owa-Iowa Street, Owo, the headquarters of the Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State on Sunday.

The attack on the church came barely a week after the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Bishop Samuel Kanu-Uche, was kidnapped in Abia State by gunmen the priest later identified as Fulani youths.

It was learned that the gunmen arrived at the church premises, which is less than 200 meters from the palace of the Olowo of Owo, at noon when the Sunday mass was being rounded off.

Checkout Magazine gathered that worshippers, mostly children, and women, were killed in the attack, by the gunmen, who were said to have thrown an improvised explosive device before they started shooting sporadically.

Workers of the Federal Medical Centre and Saint Louis Hospital, both in Owo, where the dead and the injured were taken to, told one of our correspondents that a total of 35 people were brought in dead.

However, the church and the state government did not specify the casualty figure.

A resident of the area, who identified himself as Olabamiji, said the attack was carried out by gunmen disguised as worshippers before entering the church’s premises.

He said, “We saw them. They didn’t cover their faces. Initially, we thought that they were going into the church for the service, not knowing that they were gunmen. Suddenly, we heard gunshots. They directed the gun at everyone, particularly women and children.

“While the attack lasted, we did not see any security operative confront the gunmen. We could not even count their number because everybody had to run for safety.”



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