On 5 June, hundreds of Christians were gathered to celebrate Pentecost Sunday at the St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Nigeria, when gunshots and explosions disrupted the service.
As worshippers attempted to flee the building, gunmen shot them down, both inside and outside the building. When the bloodshed was complete, dozens lay dead – including children.
The surviving victims were rushed to the hospital with injuries. It is believed that the number of fatalities could reach as high as 100.
Those unable to escape the building hid in silence while gunmen searched for remaining worshippers. The attack continued for more than 20 minutes before the assailants fled in a stolen car.
The identities and motives of the attackers are unclear, as no group has claimed responsibility, though some reports have suggested that Fulani herdsmen may be to blame.
Witnesses from outside the church building claim that four men were seen entering and leaving the building around the time of the attack.
The violence was unexpected since the town of Owo is in the southwestern state of Ondo – an area of Nigeria generally left free from the religious attacks typically experienced in other parts of the country.
Politicians in Nigeria have widely condemned the attack. The country’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, termed it “inconceivable wickedness”, while the state governor, Rotimi Ageredolu, described it as “vile and satanic”.
Pray for all of the believers who have been affected by this recent attack, including families grieving the loss of their loved ones, surviving injured victims, and those who managed to escape.
Pray that the perpetrators responsible for this attack will be held accountable and that they will realise their need for the forgiveness and grace of Christ.
Pray that Nigeria’s governing authorities will actively pursue justice and peace on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the country.
Sources: VOM Australia, VOM Canada, BBC, Al Jazeera, Nigerian Tribune