The attack on a Catholic Church in Owo area of Ondo state where over 28 persons were reported to have been killed was carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen and not a bomb explosion, witnesses have said.
Armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen on Sunday breached security at a parish in Owo, Ondo, leaving at least 28 dead, witnesses had told Peoples Gazette heard.
The attackers entered St Francis Xavier Catholic Church as service got underway on Sunday morning at the main community parish, an official said, firing live rounds on congregants before detonating explosives already planted in the church.
The attackers were identified by locals as being members of the ethnic Fulani stock, and a lawmaker said the tragic incident was orchestrated to send a message to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
“Fulani herdsmen entered our community and started shooting, they killed about 28 people and dozens were severely injured,” Olayemi Adeyemi, a member of Ondo House of Assembly representing the constituency, told Peoples Gazette.
The church is near the palace of the traditional ruler of Owo, The Gazette understands, and emergency officials were swiftly mobilised to the area.
“We have dozens of injured people at Federal Medical Centre, Owo, and I am on my way there now to see the victims,” Mr Adeyemi said, adding that he had just left the church premises.
Video of the attack shared online showed bodies believed to be of church members in a stream of blood.
The attack was immediately seen as a message to Mr Akeredolu, a son of Owo whose policies have been deemed highly restrictive of herdsmen activities around Ondo.
“We have enjoyed improved security since herdsmen were driven away from our forests by this administration,” Mr Adeyemi said. “This is a reprisal attack to send a diabolical message to the governor.”
A spokesman for the governor did not immediately return a request seeking comments.
The police and other security forces have arrived at the scene and intensified security around the church and the community, The Gazette understands