An explosion and gun-wielding attackers killed at least 50 people, including children, and injured many more at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Nigeria’s Ondo State on Sunday, according to government officials.
The explosion occurred outside the church during Pentecost Sunday Mass, when a group of unknown gunmen stormed the church at around 11:30 a.m. and began shooting sporadically.
According to Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, a spokesperson for the Nigeria Police Force’s command in Ondo state, four of the assailants opened fire inside the building while others shot at worshippers outside who tried to flee.
Health workers at the Federal Medical Centre in Owo said that at least 35 bodies had been transported to the hospital from the scene of Sunday’s attack. They also stated that there was also an urgent need for blood donations for the many wounded.
A doctor at the Medical Centre in Owo, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that their blood bank had run out of blood and they had to be pleading for more.
Nigerian authorities have vowed to “hunt” the gunmen down and “make them pay,” Governor of Nigeria’s Ondo State Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is reported to have said in a statement.
The attack is still being investigated, and specialised police units have been deployed to Owo to restore normalcy and fortify the entire community, police say.
The motive for the massacre and the identity of the perpetrators were not immediately clear, as no group claimed responsibility.