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Gunmen kill at least 50 in Catholic mass in Nigeria, motive unclear: reports

Attack happened in region not plagued by Islamist insurgency or armed gangs seeking ransom. Governor implies recent mass shootings in America don't compare.

Published: June 5, 2022 6:50pm

Updated: June 5, 2022 7:15pm

Gunmen with unknown motives massacred worshippers during Catholic mass on Sunday in southwest Nigeria, including women and children, with a doctor at a local hospital telling Reuters at least 50 dead were brought in to two hospitals.

Ondo state police are investigating the attack on Owo's St. Francis Catholic Church but haven't identified the shooters, spokesperson Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami said, without giving a casualty estimate. Its lawmaker in the Ondo House Assembly, Adeyemi Olayemi, told CNN at least 28 were killed. President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the "heinous" attack.

In tweets, Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu said he visited the scene and injured parishioners in the hospital and called the "vile and satanic attack ... a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years."

Apparently referring to recent mass shootings in the U.S., Akeredolu said: "What we have seen in America is a child play to what has happened here."

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Pope Francis is praying for the victims who were "painfully stricken in a moment of celebration," the Vatican said.

According to Reuters, attacks like these are rare in southwest Nigeria. An Islamist insurgency is pronounced in the northeast, while the northwest suffers from armed gangs "who carry out attacks and kidnappings for ransom."

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