"Assault committed by a well-organized group.
The number of victims is probably higher than the official number"
Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "Those who committed the June 5 massacre in the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Owo are a well-organized and well-trained group", sources of the Church in Nigeria report to Fides, who, for security reasons have asked for the anonymity.
"The attackers arrived at the end of the Pentecost mass, mingling with the faithful who were leaving the place of worship. They divided into small groups which began to detonate explosive devices and to shoot at the faithful, both inside and outside the church, which indicates a mastery of weapons and guerrilla tactics", explain the sources of Fides. "The official death toll of 22 communicated by the authorities must be revised upwards", they add. "Probably around 50 people were killed on the spot, to which must be added those who later succumbed to their injuries." The dramatic nature of the conditions and the number of wounded is indirectly attested by the various appeals for blood donation launched by the health authorities immediately after the massacre. "We are truly concerned because the massacre was committed in a state like that of Ondo, in the south-west, which has so far been spared the violence that is happening in other parts of Nigeria", underline our sources.
"Christian communities and Catholics in particular feel threatened. Now not a week goes by without a Catholic priest being kidnapped. Even on the eve of the June 5 massacre, another had been kidnapped, in a neighboring state", the sources recall, referring to the kidnapping, on Saturday, June 4, of Fr. Christopher Itopa Onotu parish priest of the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in Obangede, in the local government area of Okehi, in the state of Kogi, bordering that of Ondo (see Fides, 7/6/2022). "What plunges the Nigerian people into despair is that most of the murderers and kidnappers have not been brought to justice. And this generates distrust of the state and the temptation to protect oneself", our sources conclude. Tension is rising in Nigeria as the campaign for the February 2023 presidential elections is now underway.