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As we’ve all seen in Buffalo, New York, and in Uvalde, Texas, there are people in this world who are truly monstrous and place no value on human life. Some people are just inconceivably vile and their pathologies are impossible for decent human beings to wrap our heads around.

And those people exist all over this world.

On Sunday, at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria, multiple gunmen shot and killed dozens of parishioners and wounded many more. According to the Associated Press, both witnesses and authorities believe that the attack that occurred at the end of Sunday service at St. Francis Church in the town of Owo in Ondo state was a coordinated one, and to make matters worse, the killers remain at large and have not been identified.

From AP:

“The attack is undoubtedly terrorist in nature, and the scale and brutality suggests it was carefully planned rather than impulsive,” said Eric Humphery-Smith, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft risk intelligence company.

State Police Commissioner Oyeyemi Oyediran said security forces, including the military, pursued the attackers, “but unfortunately, we could not catch up with them.”

And while the attack does appear to be the work of terrorism, so far, no terrorist group—or anyone, for that matter—has claimed responsibility for it.
Witnesses to the massacre said the assailants used the element of surprise and church members were attacked while celebrating the feast of Pentecost, which AP described as “an important Catholic post-Easter holiday.”
“Everybody felt relaxed and had gone to church,” said Sunday Adewale, who works in the palace of the local chief. “Within 30 minutes, they did what they wanted and went away.”
According to ABC News, the attackers stormed the church around 11:30 a.m. and while about four men started shooting people inside the church, others waited outside and shot people as they attempted to escape.
No figures for the numbers killed in the attack have been officially confirmed but at least 50 people including children are feared dead. One witness alleged that 20 people died in the attack and health workers at the Federal Medical Center in Owo told ABC News that at least 35 bodies had been transported to the hospital from the scene of Sunday’s attack.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria said in a statement Monday that “more than 50 parishioners” had died and the gunmen were “suspected to be bandits.” They said there was also an urgent need for blood donations for the many wounded.

A U.S. official who had been briefed on the attack told ABC that, before the shooting started, there was an explosion outside the church.

“We hid inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened,” Rev. Fr. Andrew Abayomi, one of the priests at the church told reporters. “We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church and rushed victims to the hospital.”

This shooting reportedly claimed the lives of people of all ages—from toddlers to the elderly. This is just beyond horrific. Hopefully, the perpetrators of this merciless crime are brought to justice. 

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