Suspected terrorists are said to have attacked St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Emerging reports suggest that many worshippers have died and several others have been left injured following the incident at the church which is situated close to the palace of the Olowo of Owo.
The Ondo Police Command Funmilayo Odulami confirmed the development but said further details would be given later. He said all security apparatus has been put in place to restore calmness to the area.
Several videos on social media showed victims being killed and lying on the church floor in the pool of their own blood.
An eyewitness Ogueze Victor told Channels Television that the assailants were throwing “bombs and shooting” at the same time.
He said about 25 persons were taken to the hospital while about 100 people are feared dead.
According to him, when the gunmen stormed the church, they shot many people in the leg, and others at different parts of the body.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has expressed deep sadness over what he calls an unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street.
In his reaction to the tragic event, Governor Akeredolu said the vile and satanic attack is a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.
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“It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.
“I have spoken to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, who is presently on his way to Owo. Similarly, I have had to cut short my party’s national assignment in Abuja and visit Owo immediately.
“This is an unexpected development. I am shocked, to say the least. Nevertheless, We shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay. We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolves to rid our state of criminals.
“I commiserate with my people in Owo, particularly families of the those who lost their lives to this ugly and unfortunate attack. I extend my condolences to Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye as well as the Catholic Church,” Akeredolu stated.
The governor urged the people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands, adding that he has spoken to the heads of the security agencies.
Akeredolu further stated that he has equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.