Suspected terrorists are said to have attacked St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Some worshippers also sustained various degrees of injuries and have been rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, for treatment.
Blood donors needed in Federal Medical Centre Owo, Ondo State. All groups.
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Gunmen have killed church worshippers in Ondo state, south-west Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
He added that “only fiends from the nether region” could have done this.
The armed men entered St Francis Catholic church in the town of Owo during a Sunday service. They fired into the congregation and then kidnapped a priest as well as some other church-goers, witnesses said.
Nigeria has experienced an upsurge in violence in recent months.
Kidnappings and attacks have been reported across the vast country.
Emerging reports suggest that many worshippers have died and several others have been left injured following the incident at the church which is situated close to the palace of the Olowo of Owo.
The Ondo Police Command Funmilayo Odulami confirmed the development but said further details would be given later. He said all security apparatus has been put in place to restore calmness to the area.
An eyewitness Ogueze Victor told Channels Television that the assailants were throwing “bombs and shooting” at the same time.
He said about 25 persons were taken to the hospital while about 100 people are feared dead.
However, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has expressed deep sadness over what he calls an unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street.
In his reaction to the tragic event, Governor Akeredolu said the vile and satanic attack is a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.
“It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.
“I have spoken to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, who is presently on his way to Owo. Similarly, I have had to cut short my party’s national assignment in Abuja and visit Owo immediately.
“This is an unexpected development. I am shocked to say the least. Nevertheless, We shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay. We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolves to rid our state of criminals.
“I commiserate with my people in Owo, particularly families of the those who lost their lives to this ugly and unfortunate attack. I extend my condolences to Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye as well as the Catholic Church,” Akeredolu stated.
The governor urged the people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands, adding that he has spoken to the heads of the security agencies.
Akeredolu further stated that he has equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.
But a doctor at a local hospital, quoted by the Reuters news agency, said that “several worshippers were brought in dead”. After visiting the church and hospital, state lawmaker Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole told the Associated Press news agency that children were among the dead.
In a series of tweets, Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu called it a “vile and satanic attack” on innocent people . He appealed for calm urging people not to take the law into their own hands.
“We shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay,” he added.
“No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people,” President Buhari said in a statement. He is in the final year of his two-term presidency and has been criticised for failing to get to grips with the country’s security problems.
No-one has said that they were behind this attack, but Nigeria is facing worsening violence by armed groups, the BBC’s Chris Ewokor in the capital, Abuja, says. But Ondo state has, until now, been relatively untouched.
Exactly a week ago the head of the Methodist Church in Nigeria was abducted along with two other clerics in the south-east of the country.
The Methodist prelate said he paid $240,000 (£190,000) to be freed with his companions.
Two weeks ago, two Catholic priests were kidnapped in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state in the north of the country. They have not been released.
In March, gunmen targeted the vital rail link between Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna killing at least nine people and kidnapping dozens of others, many of whom are still being held.