Image: AFP – Ondo state governor Rotimi Akeredolu (third from left) points to the bloodstained floor after an attack by gunmen at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town, southwest Nigeria on June 5, 2022.
ABUJA, Nigeria — Gunmen opened fire on worshippers and detonated explosives at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria on Sunday, leaving dozens feared dead, state lawmakers said.
The attackers targeted the St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state just as the worshippers gathered on Pentecost Sunday, legislator Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole said. Among the dead were many children, he said.
Authorities did not immediately release an official death toll. Timileyin said at least 50 people had been killed, though others put the figure higher. Videos appearing to be from the scene of the attack showed church worshippers lying in pools of blood while people around them wailed.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said “only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act,” according to a statement from his spokesman.
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year at 4,650 (from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021), up from 3,530 the previous reporting period, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List (WWL) report. The tally of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous reporting period.
On the 2022 WWL ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.
In the past, becoming a Christian was synonymous with losing everything. Assuming a faith in the Lord Jesus would immediately be a reason for suffering persecution, humiliation and insults from non-believers, as well as losing possessions, being imprisoned, tortured and even facing death.
Today this is also a reality in many places around the world, but yet many have freedom to attend a church service to proclaim Jesus to others but still despise this opportunities.