Nigerian authorities have recovered unexploded improvised bombs and ammunition at a Catholic church in Owo, where gunmen attacked during a Sunday mass.
On Sunday, armed men attacked a Catholic church in Owo, a town located in southwest Nigeria's Ondo State, a region which is reportedly not prone to religion-related violence. But media reports have said that more than 50 died in the Nigeria church massacre, which was carried out by armed men with guns and explosives.
Reuters reported that Nigeria's police said they recovered unexploded improvised bombs and shells from AK-47 ammunition following the deadly attack at St. Francis Catholic Church on Sunday, when the faithful celebrated the Christian holiday called the Pentecost. National police spokesman Olumuyiwa Adejobi released a statement explaining the findings of initial investigations that showed how some of the assailants "disguised as congregants" while other attackers "positioned themselves around the church premises from different directions [and] fired into the church." The stolen vehicle used by the attackers to escape had also been recovered, with its owner now cooperating with authorities in the investigation.
Nigerian Community Grapples With Deadly Church Massacre
PBS Newshour reported that the Ondo State where the Owo church massacre occurred is considered one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, which is why it came as a shock to the community and the world to witness such a brutal attack. Following the Nigeria church massacre, Owo hospital workers struggled to accommodate the wounded, causing the Nigeria Medical Association in Ondo State to direct all available doctors to hospitals in Owo to assist dozens of critically wounded victims.
A doctor at the Federal Medical Center in Owo, who spoke under the condition of anonymity as they were forbidden from talking to the media, admitted that their blood bank had been exhausted and were in dire need of more. VOA News reported that citizens of Owo took it upon themselves to organize a blood drive for the victims of the Nigeria church massacre. Organizing the blood drive is Owo resident Sunday Ajibola, who took to social media to urge people to donate blood to help the "overwhelming" situation in the hospitals.
Pope Francis Mourns with Victims of the Nigeria Church Massacre
On Monday, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin released a statement on the "horrific" Nigeria church massacre, sharing that Pope Francis has expressed his "spiritual closeness" to the victims, the Catholic News Agency reported. Cardinal Parolin said in a telegram sent on the behalf of Pope Francis that the Holy Father was praying "for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence."
Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade of Ondo received the papa telegram, which also said that Pope Francis "invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength" to the Nigerian community grappling with the losses incurred following the deadly attack. Shortly after the Nigeria church massacre made headlines, the Vatican also released a statement saying that Pope Francis "prays for the victims and for the country, painfully affected in a moment of celebration, and entrusts both to the Lord, to send his Spirit to comfort them."
No one has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack, but Muslim rights group MURIC director Ishaq Akintola believes it is the Boko Haram militant group who is behin the Nigeria church massacre, as they had carried out previous attacks in Kwara, which is "very close" to Ondo State.
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