ONDO, NIGERIA – Tragedy unfolded at a Catholic church in Ondo on June 5th after a group of unknown gunmen opened fire during mass, killing at least 50 people – including women and children – during the Sunday service.
Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, a spokesperson for the Nigerian state of Ondo, stated that the gunmen had taken aim at those outside and inside of the St. Francis Catholic Church. Still, investigators have not yet determined the cause for the attack. Apparently, explosives were also used during the incident.
Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu described the horrific incident as “a great massacre” that cannot be tolerated.
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Reverend Augustine Ikwu, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Nigeria, expressed immense grief over the senseless murders, saying, “It is so sad that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church…leaving many feared dead and many others injured and the Church violated.”
Speaking anonymously with local media, a doctor from a hospital located in Owo, Ondo, claimed that at least 50 deceased individuals were brought into two hospitals from where the attack occurred, alongside numerous others injured in the attack. The two hospitals in question are reportedly in dire need of blood donations to treat the wounded.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari called the massacre “heinous,” while a spokesperson for the Vatican stated that Pope Francis has been praying for those hurt and killed in the incident, lamenting how they’d been “painfully stricken in a moment of celebration.”
For over a decade, the country of Nigeria has been dealing with Islamist insurgent groups, most notably being Boko Haram. The aforementioned terrorist outfit sometimes referred to as the “Nigerian Taliban,” has conducted numerous terrorist attacks against the Nigerian government, religious institutions (namely Christian ones), and citizens since 2011.
According to reports, Boko Haram in 2014 had conducted “near-daily attacks against Christians, security and police forces, the media, schools, politicians, and Muslims perceived as collaborators.”
One of the most disturbing terrorist acts attributed to Boko Haram occurred in April of 2014, where between two days, the terrorist outfits kidnapped 276 girls aged between 16 and 18-years-old, with a majority of the victims being Christian. While many of the girls were able to escape or were recovered by the Nigerian Armed Forces, over 100 of the girls remain missing to this day.
While the June 5th mass shooting was carried out in the southwestern state of Ondo and Boko Haram has been largely associated with the northeastern portion of Nigeria, the brazen massacre occurring at a Catholic church in Nigeria seemingly bears all the hallmarks of a Boko Haram attack.
However, authorities in the region have claimed that the motive and identity of the gunmen are undetermined as of this time, nor have any groups claimed responsibility for the attack.
This piece was written by Gregory Hoyt on June 6, 2022. It originally appeared in RedVoiceMedia.com and is used by permission.
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