At least 50 people have been killed in a gun attack on a Catholic church in Nigeria

Gunmen have killed at least 50 people during a Sunday prayer service at a church in southwestern Nigeria.

The dead included children and women, according to hospital doctors and media reports.

Ondo State Police spokesman Funmilaio Ibukun Odunlami said gunmen opened fire on people inside and outside the church building, killing several worshipers.

He did not say how many people were killed or injured in the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in the state of Owoo. Simply put, the police are investigating the incident.
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Ondo State Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu described Sunday’s incident as “genocide.” He went to the hospital to see the injured after inspecting the scene. He commented that such incidents could not be allowed to happen again.

The identity of the attackers and the motive for the attack were not immediately clear, Reuters news agency reported.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s Catholic Church, Reverend Augustine Aiku, has expressed “deep sorrow” over the attack, which was carried out by unknown assailants. He said the church’s bipas and other priests had escaped the attack

A doctor at a hospital in Ouaru told Reuters that at least 50 bodies had been brought to two hospitals in the city from the site of the attack. The doctor, who did not want to be named, said blood was needed to treat the injured.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has called it a “heinous attack” and condemned it. The Vatican says Pope Francis has prayed for the victims.

Islamist rebels in northeastern Nigeria are battling government forces, and in the northwest, armed criminal groups often carry out deadly attacks for looting and kidnappings for ransom. But such deadly attacks are rare in the southwestern part of the country.