Five Killed In Shooting At South African Mega Church

 

At least five people were killed and 40 others, including off-duty police officers, were arrested on Saturday after gunmen stormed a South African church, reportedly over a leadership dispute, the national police commissioner said.

According to a statement by South Africa’s top cop, General Khehla John Sitole: “Four people were found shot and burnt to death in a car while a fifth victim, a security guard, was also fatally shot in his car while he was apparently attending this complaint.”

The unusually violent incident took place early Saturday when an armed group stormed the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, on the western outskirts of Johannesburg, “indicating that they were coming to take over the premises,” police said.

The church has had multiple succession-related clashes that have been widely reported by local media since multimillionaire leader and founder Comforter Glayton Modise died in 2016.

Sitole said police responded to reports of “shooting and an alleged hostage situation,” and seized more than 34 firearms including five rifles, 16 other guns and 13 pistols.

“I am certain that the speedy response by the joint security forces has averted what could have been a more severe blood bath”, Sitole said.

More than 40 suspects, including six taken to hospital, were arrested.

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They included members of the South African police, the National Defence Force, the Johannesburg Metro Police and the Department of Correctional Services.

However, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said that the law enforcement officers arrested were worshippers that got caught up in the clashes.

“They were arrested in their capacity as church members, not as officers,” Naidoo told AFP.

The police commissioner said authorities are investigating “the possibility that this attack may have been motivated by a feud between conflicted parties of the church,” which is used to factional struggles.

Local media reported that in November 2018, a shoot-out between opposing sides wounded three people outside the church headquarters in Zuurbekom.

In 2017, the warring factions went to court over claims that more than R110 million ($6.5 million) was missing from church coffers.

Believed to be South Africa’s second-largest church group, it is estimated to have at least 1.5 million members according to the financial services group Sanlam.

Anambra Church Attackers Will Face Justice, Says Osinbajo

File Photo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that the attackers who killed 12 worshippers at St Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu, in Anambra State will be brought to justice for the “heinous crime”.

“The Acting President has been in touch with the Anambra State Governor, Willy Obiano, police authorities and other security agencies, and assures that the perpetrators of the heinous crimes would be brought to justice,” a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President, Mr Laolu Akande, on Monday night said.

According to the statement, Professor Osinbajo has been receiving regular updates on the status of investigations regarding the atrocious and mindless acts of violence on Sunday.

The acting President condemned the “despicable acts of violence”, and commiserated with families, relatives, friends of the victims, the entire people and the government of Anambra State, the statement added.

Gunmen had stormed the church in Ozubulu, Ekusigo Local Government Area of the state on Sunday morning while a mass was ongoing.

According to the Commissioner of Police in the state, Garba Umar, the gunmen arrived around 6:20 am, entered the church and opened fire on the worshippers.

Umar, who described the attack as sacrilege, attributed it to a “gang war”, saying the shooting was a reprisal and that the gunmen traced their victim to the church.

“Information revealed that this (attack) is not unconnected to a kind of a ‘gang war’ between indigenes of the state – the children of the same village – who are engaged in a warfare outside Nigeria, precisely in South Africa,” the police commissioner said on Sunday.

The attack led to anger and shock with many Nigerians condemning it and demanding justice for the victims.

On Monday morning, Governor Willy Obiano told reporters that some of the suspects had been arrested.

He, however, did not give details, adding only that investigations are ongoing to ensure that the perpetrators are all arrested and prosecuted.

“I am confident that we are going to solve this problem and the way we handle it will show them (the perpetrators) that you can’t import your trouble from wherever you are in Africa and bring it to Anambra State,” the governor had said.

Fayose Calls For Thorough Investigation Of Church Attack

Twelve people were killed in Sunday’s attack on St Philips Catholic Church

The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has called on the police and other security agencies to thoroughly investigate Sunday’s attack on St Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu in Anambra State.

Governor Fayose made the call in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, on Monday.

According to the statement, the governor condemned the attack, describing the perpetrators as “wicked and devilish”.

“Killing fellow human beings is devilish, not to talk of killings in the house of God. I condemn the Ozubulu murder in its entirety,” he said.

Governor Fayose

Governor Fayose, who extended his condolences to the Catholic Church, the government and people of Anambra State as well as families of the victims, said there was the need for the reorientation of the country.

He said, “It is time for us as a nation to have another look at our moral values. Where did we get it so wrong that we now kill one another at will?

“Boko Haram killings in the North East, Badoo killings in Lagos, Fulani herdsmen killings across the country, ritual killings everywhere, and now drug war, what’s wrong with us as a people? Why is it that we no longer value human lives?

“Methinks there is an urgent need for leaders of this country to take the issue of moral values reorientation of the citizens seriously.”

Sunday’s attack, which left 12 people dead and many others injured, has been widely condemned with many Nigerians calling on authorities to ensure that those behind the killings are arrested and prosecuted.

On Monday morning, Anambra State governor, Mr Willie Obiano, told journalists that some of the suspects have been arrested.

He, however, did not provide details of the arrest.

“We have actually picked up some of the key members,” Obiano said. “I am confident that we are going to solve this problem and the way we handle it will show them (the perpetrators) that you can’t import your trouble from wherever you are in Africa and bring it to Anambra State.”

Church Attack: Some Suspects Have Been Arrested, Says Obiano

The church was attacked by gunmen on Sunday

The Police have apprehended some suspects allegedly involved in the killing of 12 people at the St. Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu area of Anambra State.

Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, said this on Monday while stressing that all those behind the attack will be made to face the law.

“We have actually picked up some of the key members,” he said without giving more details about the arrests.

He added, “I am confident that we are going to solve this problem and the way we handle it will show them (the perpetrators) that you can’t import your trouble from wherever you are in Africa and bring it to Anambra State.”

Obiano

Gunmen attacked the church on Sunday during the early morning mass, shooting sporadically at worshippers.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Garba Umar, confirmed the incident to Channels Television, saying that the attack was a result of disagreements between some indigenes of the state.

According to him, many people were injured in the attack while some of the victims died on their way to the hospital, bringing the total number of deaths to 12.

“Information further revealed that this is not unconnected to a kind of a ‘gang war’ between indigenes of the state – the children of the same village – who are engaged in a warfare outside Nigeria, precisely in South Africa,” Umar had said.

Anambra Church Attack, An Unspeakable Sacrilege – Buhari

The President, Muhammadu Buhari, has condemned the attack on a Catholic church in Anambra State, describing it as an unspeakable sacrilege.

Expressing his grief in a strongly worded statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, President Buhari said that “there was no justification whatsoever to target church worshippers and kill them in cold blood.

According to him, “such atrocity plumbs the depth of depravity and extreme cruelty of the kind that words cannot adequately express”.

He further stated that there is no religion that does not lay constant emphasis on the sanctity of life, adding that “all Nigerians must rise up and speak with one voice against these remorseless evil men.”

While expressing his deep felt sympathy with the families of the victims, the church leadership and the government of Anambra State, President Buhari reassured Nigerians of his administration’s firm and uncompromising commitment to protecting their lives and property at all times.

Anambra Church Attack: Okowa Condoles With Obiano, Residents

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Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa has condoled his Anambra counterpart, Chief Willie Obiano over Sunday’s church attack at St Philips Catholic Church Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the state.

In a statement released on Sunday by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, Okowa condemned in strong terms the unprovoked attack by gunmen leading to the death of several worshippers.

“On behalf of my family, the government and people of Delta State, I commiserate with my brother, the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the government and people of Anambra State over Sunday’s church attack at Ozubulu leading to the death of several worshippers.”

Read Also: Anambra Church Attack: Perpetrators Must Be Punished – Saraki

The governor expressed sadness on the desecration of the temple of God, adding that the church is a place of refuge and should be devoid of attacks.

“This is tragic, the church is a place of refuge for all who run into it, this unwarranted attack and mindless bloodletting is not only wicked but barbaric and must be condemned by all good men of conscience.

“Our hearts are with the bereaved families at this moment of anguish. I pray that God grant the soul of the departed eternal rest as I urge the police and other security agents to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book.”

Furthermore, the governor urged the church not to despair even in the face of the unfortunate incident.

“To the Church, I urge you to be cheerful, prayerful and courageous in these trying times. Do not despair for every thing that happens under the earth is for a reason. For God knows the end from the beginning,” he said

Anambra Church Attack: Perpetrators Must Be Punished – Saraki

The Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki has condemned the attack on a Church in Anambra State on Sunday morning, saying that the perpetrators of the crime must be brought to book.

He expressed sadness over the incident via twitter saying: “I join all Nigerians in grieving today’s horrific massacre of innocent worshippers in St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Anambra State.

“My heart goes out to the families of the victims and the survivors of this terrible massacre and the government and people of Anambra State.”

Furthermore, the Senate President urged security agencies to carry out their duties in ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

“Today, all of us, as Nigerians have been attacked by this senseless act committed by evil people.

“Our security forces must not stop until the perpetrators of today’s Anambra massacre are brought to justice.”

Read Also: Police Confirm At Least 11 Killed In Anambra Church Attack

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara has also expressed displeasure over the attack, describing it as abominable, barbaric and inhuman.

While condoling with residents of the state, he also stated that perpetrators must face the wrath of the law.

“Today’s attack on worshippers in St. Phillips Catholic Church in Ozubulu, Anambra state is abominable, barbaric and the height of wickedness.

“My heartfelt condolences go to the families of victims, the Catholic Church, and the people and government of Anambra state.”

The Anambra State Police Command confirmed the death of 11 persons after gunmen attacked the church in Ozubulu area of the state.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Garba Umar, told Channels Television on Sunday that the gunmen went into the church during an early morning mass and shot sporadically at worshippers.

According to him, many people were injured in the attack while some of the victims died on their way to the hospital.

The state Governor, Willie Obiano, who visited the scene of the attack has, however, promised that investigations would commence immediately to bring the perpetrators to book.

Gunmen Attack Not Church Invasion, Obiano Says

Willie Obiano
Governor Obiano

Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano has affirmed that the attack on St. Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu is not a church invasion as reported.

The governor stated this on Sunday after he visited the scene in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the state where he condemned the attack he described as a sacrilege.

READ ALSO‘Gang War’ Resulted In Church Attack, Says Anambra CP

He, however, said that the briefing received from the police revealed that two sons of Ozubulu – who are known drug barons in South Africa – were the prime suspects in the matter having dragged down their drug war to the state.

Governor Obiano visited Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi where he sympathised with the injured victims and noted that the incident was not a church invasion.

Several Killed As Gunmen Attack Church In Anambra

He expressed worry that the incident was tragic as innocent people were attacked in the incident.

The governor, however, reassured them that the suspects and all those involved in perpetrating such heinous crimes would be brought to book while the government would take up the bills of the hospitalised persons.

Police Confirm At Least 11 Killed In Anambra Church Attack

He further proceeded to Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Cathedral, Nnewi, to calm parishioners over the already heightened rumor that churches were under attack.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Garba Umar, confirmed the death of 11 persons in an interview with Channels Television.

He said that after gunmen shot sporadically at worshippers during the early morning mass, many people were injured while some of the victims died on their way to the hospital.

‘Gang War’ Resulted In Church Attack, Says Anambra CP

Church Attack A Result Of 'Gang War', Says Anambra CP

The Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, Mr Garba Umar, has attributed the gunmen attack on St. Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu to a ‘gang war’.

At least 11 persons were said to have been killed while several others were left injured in the attack which occurred during an early morning mass on Sunday.

The Police Commissioner, who condemned the attack as sacrilege, noted that the shooting was a reprisal attack after the perpetrators traced their victim to the church.

READ ALSOSeveral Killed As Gunmen Attack Church In Anambra

He said: “Information revealed that this (attack) is not unconnected to a kind of a ‘gang war’ between indigenes of the state – the children of the same village – who are engaged in a warfare outside Nigeria, precisely in South Africa; there were killings earlier and this is a reprisal attack.

“They (the gunmen) went to the church where he (the victim) was suspected to be undergoing the process of worship; the assassins fired and killed some people and that is the situation”.

Mr Umar told Channels Television that the church authority, however, confirmed the death of the victim’s father during the attack.

Police Confirm At Least 11 Killed In Anambra Church Attack

He assured the public that the gunmen would be arrested soon, saying the police have gathered adequate information to help them apprehend the suspects.

“One significant point I would like to mention is that the father of the person they were looking for was killed and that is a confirmation from the church. We have an information which we are working on so that we can get those guys.

“The person whom they were looking for was the person that built the church and he has other churches that he has built and in order to forestall any further attack, we were able to secure those churches that he built.

“The most important thing is to get those (people) who committed the offence and we are working on that. We have enough intelligence information that will lead to their arrest and very soon, arrests will be made”, the Police Commissioner added.

Gunmen Storm Church During Service in Maiduguri

Gunmen suspected to be the radical Islamic sect; Boko Haram today launched an attack on a local Church of the Brethren- Ekilisiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) in Maiduguri the Borno State capital while the Sunday service was in progress.

Today’s incident marks the first time that an attack will be launched on a church in the Maiduguri metropolis in broad daylight during Sunday service since the Boko Haram insurgence heightened in the area.

Worshippers said the gunmen numbering about five came to the church area located at Bulunkutu ward in the metropolis in a tricycle at about 11a.m and opened fire directly into the church targeting the worshippers when the sermon was being delivered.

They wondered how the gunmen could dare the soldiers in front of the church to launch such attack.

Spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Sagir Musa who confirmed the incident said the troops at the church post immediately repelled the attack.

“They came firing into the church area but our men at the post rose to the occasion and fired back at them. We successfully repelled the attack and the gunmen fled immediately”

He revealed that a police attached to the JTF was hit by bullet but has been treated and discharged from the hospital.