Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the victims of a terror attack on a Catholic Church during Mass in Nigeria’s southwestern Ondo State that killed more than 50 people, including several children. Source: Vatican News.
As St Francis Xavier Church in Owo celebrated Pentecost Sunday, gunmen entered and opened fire on worshippers. Initial reports suggest the attackers also set off explosives during the attack.
In response, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the victims and sent his prayers.
The Pope “prays for the victims and for the country, painfully attacked at a time of celebration, and he entrusts everyone to the Lord, that God might send His Spirit to console them,” Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni said.
Local doctors told Reuters news agency that at least 50 people were killed in the attack.
Dozens of others were wounded and taken to hospitals in Owo. Doctors have appealed for blood donations on social media.
Communications director for the Ondo Diocese, Fr Augustine Ikwu, said fears are rising that many more people may die from their wounds, and lamented that the Church had been “violated”.
He denied initial reports on social media that the attackers had kidnapped the priest and other members of the congregation.
“All the priests in the parish are safe,” Fr Ikwu said.
He said the identity of the attackers remains unknown and Nigerian security forces have been deployed in the area surrounding the church.
Pope laments terrorist attack on Catholic Church in Nigeria (By Devin Watkins and Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News)