It is no longer News that on Sunday, gunmen attacked the Saint Francis Catholic Church on Owa-luwa Street in Owo, the headquarters of Ondo State’s Owo Local Government Area.
The attack on the church in Owo, (Rotimi Akeredolu’s hometown), came just 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.
The gunmen who attacked the Catholic church arrived at the site, which is less than 200 meters from the palace of the Olowo of Owo, at 12 p.m., when the Sunday mass was wrapping up.
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Owo Massacre; We were about to round off service when the Gunmen struck
According to a Daily Trust report, Rev Father Andrew Abayomi, a priest at St Francis Catholic Church on Owa-luwa Street in Owo, Ondo State, has described how the church was attacked.
The number of worshippers killed when terrorists bombed the church on Sunday morning was reported by the Daily Trust.
The cleric told BBC Yoruba that suspected terrorists struck as the day’s service was about to end.
“We were about to round off service. I had even asked people to start leaving, that was how we started hearing gunshots from different angles.”
“We hid inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened. We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church.
Ondo Massacre; How it Happened.
While some Sources say over 50 people were killed in the attack, however, a local resident identified as Olabamiji said the attack was carried out by gunmen who disguised themselves as worshippers before entering the church’s premises.
He claims that as soon as they entered the church grounds, they detonated an IED before shooting the congregation.
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 to confront the gunmen. We could not even count their number because everybody had to run for safety.”
Many people were seen crying at the FMC Owo because they didn’t know what happened to their relatives who were receiving treatment at the hospital’s Emergency Department.
On the condition of anonymity, a doctor at the FMC stated that 23 people were brought in dead and 28 people were injured.
“At the last count, 23 dead bodies were brought in, while 28 sustained various degrees of injuries,” he said. Some minor injuries were treated and discharged right away. That is the current situation.”
Hundreds of relatives were seen discussing the incident at St. Louis Catholic Hospital, with some sobbing.
In this report by TVC News, residents and survivors shared their stories.
Ondo church killing; Our hearts are heavy”-Gov Akeredolu
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has reacted to the incident, which happened in his hometown.
He described the attack as “vile and satanic”, saying it was a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.
“It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.”
“I have spoken to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, who is presently on his way to Owo. Similarly, I have had to cut short my party’s national assignment in Abuja and visit Owo immediately.”
“This is an unexpected development. I am shocked to say the least. Nevertheless, We shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay.”
“We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolves to rid our state of criminals.”
“I commiserate with my people in Owo, particularly families of the those who lost their lives to this ugly and unfortunate attack. I extend my condolences to Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye as well as the Catholic Church.
“I urge our people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies.”
“I have equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.” Akeredolu said.
Owo Massacre; Bristish Government condemns incidence.
The British government has condemned the heinous killing of worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church on Owa-luwa Street in Owo Kingdom, Ondo State, on Sunday.
Remember that herdsmen attacked the church in Owo and killed at least 25 worshippers.
According to a top Catholic church official in Ondo State, the number of those killed is 25.
While condemning the attack, Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, expressed her sympathies to the victims and their families on Twitter.
She tweeted, “Terrible news today from Owo in Ondo State. I condemn those responsible for this horrific crime. I extend my sympathies to all those affected.”