Nigerian authorities said Thursday that 40 people were killed and 61 injured and hospitalized in an attack on a Catholic church in the state of Ondo in the southwest of the country on Sunday. The so-called Islamic State is suspected of having committed the attack.
The updated data was provided by the governor of the state of Arakunrin Akeredolu, quoted by the Reuters agency. A total of 127 people were injured in the attack, but 26 of them have already been released from the hospital.
The attackers with AK-47 automatic rifles and explosives attacked the Catholic parish of St. Francis in Owa in the state of Ondo on Sunday during the Pentecost.
Earlier it was reported about 50 killed as a result of the attack.
– We have noticed the traces of the militants of the (so-called) Islamic State Province of West Africa (ISWAP) in the terrible attack in Owa and are pursuing them. Our security agencies are on their trail and we will bring them to justice, Nigerian Interior Minister Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola assured journalists in the capital of Abuja.
The authorities had not previously reported any suspicions as to the identity or motives of the perpetrators.
Religious attacks and kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs are frequent in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. These types of attacks, resulting in the death of many civilians, mainly take place in the north and northeast of the country, where the fundamentalist Islamic militia Boko Haram is active.
In the south-west of the country, attacks on objects of worship have so far been rare.
The jihadist organization ISWAP, operating mainly in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring Chad, is one of the two main Islamist guerrillas that have been fighting both with each other and with the Nigerian army for years.
In terms of denominations, Nigeria is divided almost equally into the Muslim North and the Christian South.
Main photo source: STRINGER / PAP / EPA