State lawmakers said gunmen opened fire and detonated worshipers at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria on Sunday, fearing dozens of people were killed.
Legislator Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole said the attackers targeted the St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state in the same manner as worshipers gathered at Pentecost on Sunday. He said that many children were also among the dead. Adelegbe Timilene, who represents the Owo region in Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber, said the presiding priest had also been abducted.
“Our hearts are heavy,” Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu tweeted on Sunday. “Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people.”
Officials did not immediately release an official death toll. Timilen said at least 50 people had died, although others put the figure at higher. In what appears to be a video from the scene of the attack, worshipers of the church are seen lying in a pool of blood while those around them mourn.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on the church. While much of Nigeria is grappling with security issues, Ondo is widely known as one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria. However, the state has been caught in an increasingly violent conflict between farmers and herders.
Nigeria’s security forces did not immediately respond to inquiries about how the attack happened or whether there were any clues about the suspects. Owo is approximately 345 kilometers (215 mi) east of Lagos.
“In the history of Ovo, we have never experienced such an ugly incident,” said MP Oluwole. “It’s become too much.”