Terrorist gunmen staged a deadly attack on a Catholic church in southwest of Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least 50 people, including women and children.
The country’s top authorities are promising to make every resource available to track down those responsible and bring them to justice.
According to Reuters, the gunmen, whose identities remain a mystery, fired at people outside and within the building, slaughtering numerous Christians, said Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, the police spokeswoman for Ondo state.
Police were unable to provide the exact number of those killed in the attack, but witnesses including a medic say that over 50 people were slaughtered.
“A doctor at a hospital in Owo told Reuters that at least 50 bodies had been brought in to two hospitals in the town from the attack,” Reuters reported. “The doctor, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press, also said there was a need for blood donations to treat the injured.”
In the attack, terrorists rode up to the church on motorcycles and shot parishioners attending mass at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo. The assailants reportedly used explosives in addition to small arms to carry out the attack.
Like several other countries in Africa, Nigerian citizens do not have the right to bear arms, and civilians are banned from owning handguns, military rifles, and machine guns, according to an AFP report. “Licenses can be obtained from the police for double-barrel shotguns and hunting guns, but permission for this has been suspended because of the security situation.”
As detailed by CNN, attacks like the one carried out on Sunday are reportedly rare in the area of southwest Nigeria. Conflict is typically rife in the northern-most parts of the country where Islamist terrorists belonging to ISIS and Boko Haram stage sporadic attacks on the civilian population.
“I am deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St. Francis Catholic Church, Today,” Ondo Gov. Arakunrin Akeredolu wrote on Twitter. “The vile & satanic attack is 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,” he continued. “Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.”
The attack was also condemned by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who described it as “heinous.”
”No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome the light. Nigeria will eventually win,” he said.