Nigeria, church shooting during mass: dead and wounded

Armed men broke into a Catholic community during the celebration of Pentecost in the state of Ondo, in the south of the African country

They hit the church crowded with faithful during the Pentecost mass. Bursts of gunfire, then a roar. Screams and a desperate run away. What is left is shown by gruesome images: bodies poured into pools of blood, including children. Owo, a town 350 kilometers from Lagos, southwestern Nigeria, is devastated. This too much. Here we have never seen anything so shocking, reacted a local deputy, Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole, who rushed to the scene of the massacre. Until yesterday evening the toll was uncertain, with medical reports indicating at least about fifty dead and many wounded, even severe. But it could have been even worse because the terror came when the celebration was about to end and some of the faithful had already left, as he said. father Andrew Abayomi, priest of the Catholic Church of San Francesco who escaped the carnage: We were about to conclude the service. I even asked people to start leaving, then we started hearing gunshots come from different quarters, he told the BBC. We hid for 20 minutes. When we realized they were gone, we went out and took the victims to the hospital.

Some survivors reported a priest and some faithful kidnapped. A version relaunched by a deputy representing the Owo area in the national parliament, according to which the priest who was celebrating mass was taken hostage. But the news was promptly denied by the diocese of Ondo, the Nigerian state where Owo is located: All the priests and the bishop of the parish are safe and no one has been kidnapped, a statement read.

Another witness reported seeing at least five armed men inside the church, before fleeing to safety. They attacked with firearms and explosives, state police spokesman Ibukun Odunlami confirmed to AFP.

Our heavy heart tweeted the governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a native of Owo, our peace and tranquility has been attacked by the enemies of the people. Indeed, if most of Nigeria grappling with a huge crisis of insecurity – Islamic extremism in the Northeast and the gangs of looters and kidnappers terrorizing the Northwest and the center of the country – Ondo State was hitherto known as a of the least risk areas of the country. Even in this state, however, the clash is growing between nomadic Fulani shepherds, mostly Muslims and foreigners on the one hand, and Yoruba farmers, permanent and Christian, on the other.

So despite there has been no claim, the first suspicions are concentrated precisely on the Fulani from the north of the countrythanks to the progressive desertification, they are pushing further south in search of new lands. A conflict over resources that is increasingly turning into an ethnic-religious conflict, particularly heated in the central belt of Nigeria: in one year there was a 43% increase in mass atrocities, more than terrorist ones.

an attack on the governor Rotimi Akeredolu (originally from Owo, ed) for his support for security in the Yoruba land. The terrorists, mostly Fulani foreigners, are expected to be caught and killed by security forces, Yoruba organization Afenifere accuses.
While focusing on the conquest of territories for their livestock farms, the Fulani shepherds become protagonists of assaults on villages inhabited mainly by Christians – observes Alessandro Monteduro, director of Aid to the Church in Need – In recent years the Fulani have endowed themselves by Ak47. Lack of good governance and corruption are contributing to all of this.
Words of condemnation came from the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, in the last year of a mandate marked by harsh criticism for its ineffectiveness on the security front.

Emotion and dismay from Nigeria to Italy. Pope Francis addressed a prayer for the victims and for the country, painfully affected in a moment of celebration. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio spoke of unprecedented violence.

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