Atleast 50 people shot dead in church during mass in Nigeria

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Employees cleared the pools of blood and pieces of broken pews at the Saint Francis Catholic church in south-west Nigeria on Monday, as the local community grieved more than 50 parishioners shot dead in the last minutes of mass a day earlier.

Nobody has actually claimed responsibility for the killings, and Nigeria's authorities and the police have actually not named any suspects.

However brand-new information of the brazen attack emerged on Monday, as authorities and witnesses described how the unknown assaulters detonated explosives and opened fire through the windows as the event ended, before getting in the church and shooting at those who tried to leave from 2 of 3 exits. The attack lasted for about 20 minutes and left scores wounded.

Steven Omotayo, who lives near the church, hurried to the scene when he heard the gunshots. "I saw a lot of dead bodies-- both young and old, even children," he said.

The Catholic bishop of Ondo state, Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, likewise rushed to the church after the attack. "It was beyond what I ever envisioned. A lot of bodies right there in the church, blood-soaked bodies," he told local broadcaster, AIT tv.

At a nearby hospital scores of injured people, some being comforted by their families, were being treated in threadbare health center conditions, many laying in blood-soaked bandages. Alex Michael was shot in the leg while safeguarding his kids. "Immediately they got in and began firing everywhere, many people," he informed Reuters.

One medical professional informed the AP: "Even as a physician, I have taken care of a great variety of casualties however what I saw the other day was far beyond whatever I have seen prior to in my life."

Pope Francis and other world leaders expressed horror and compassion. Ondo state governor Arakunrin Akeredolu stated on Monday that flags in the state would be flown at half-mast for a week. Nigerian government officials, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, have condemned the killings. "No matter what, this nation will never ever give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never ever overcome light. Nigeria will eventually win," he stated in a declaration the other day.

Yet numerous in Nigeria are sick of waiting. Owo, a relatively peaceful town, is now the latest site of a mass killing or major attack-- such occasions are taking place regularly, as multiple security crises overwhelm the country's security firms. About 3,000 people were killed by armed groups in Nigeria in the first 3 months of 2022, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

State police commissioner Oyeyemi Oyediran stated security forces, consisting of the military, pursued the assailants, "however regrettably, we could not overtake them".

Some citizens and legislators stated they thought the attack was carried out by ethnic Fulani terrorists, sometimes called outlaws, who have actually staged unrelenting attacks predominantly in northern Nigeria however also in other parts of the nation.

The groups emerged from a historical conflict between pastoralists and local communities over access to land and infringements on personal farms, and have carried out mass killings and kidnappings, exploiting a lack of rural security throughout the country.

Adeyemi Olayemi, a legislator in Ondo, said the atrocity was most likely "a reprisal" in retaliation for current limitations by the state government on grazing in Ondo, including in forests where the attackers have actually performed attacks. The restrictions were embraced after an increase in kidnappings in the state and reports of attacks and livestock infringements on private farms.

Yet an increase in violence by numerous heavily armed groups, including jihadists who are significantly active in north-west and central Nigeria, have actually added to the uncertainty and fears that several actors could be responsible.

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