LAGOS: Gunmen who attacked a Catholic church on Sunday with explosives in southwest Nigeria killed 21 people and wounded others, a local government official said.
Gunmen stormed a Catholic church and opened fire killing and wounding worshippers, the government and police said.
The violence at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town in Ondo State erupted during the morning service in a rare attack in the southwest of Nigeria, where jihadists and criminal gangs operate in other regions.
Pope Francis said in a statement he had learned of the "death of dozens of faithful", many children, during the celebration of the Christian holiday of the Pentecost.
"While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country," he said.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
In the first three months of 2022, 896 Nigerian civilians were killed in attacks by extremist Islamic militants. Not all were motivated by religious persecution, but a significant number of those men, women and children were murdered because for their faith, a report by opendoorsuk.org. said.
These 896 people were killed in attacks by Islamist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), militant Fulani herdsmen, bandits and violent gangs – and this total is only civilians. The highest number of fatalities was in the north west of Nigeria, with high numbers elsewhere in the north and in the Middle Belt, the report added.