Over 50 Catholic worshippers -including several children- were killed Sunday in a shooting massacre inside and outside a church in southwestern Nigeria. The only ones to survive the attack were the Bishop and the priests, it was reported. The identity and motive of the attackers were not immediately clear.
The number of wounded people being treated at nearby healthcare facilities was not disclosed, but authorities admitted a large number of blood transfusions were needed.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack, calling it heinous.
Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country, painfully affected in a moment of celebration, and commends both to the Lord, so that he may send his Spirit to console them, The Vatican said in a statement.
Several gunmen shot at local parishioners outside and inside the building, Police Spokesperson Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami told reporters, although the exact number of people killed or injured at St Francis Catholic Church in the town of Owo was not released.
Ondo State Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the attack and also those injured at a hospital, described Sunday's incident as a great massacre that should not be allowed to happen again.
It is so sad that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked St Francis Catholic Church...leaving many feared dead and many others injured and the Church violated, said Catholic Church spokesman in Nigeria, Reverend Augustine Ikwu.
A doctor at a hospital in Owo told Reuters that at least 50 bodies had been brought into two hospitals. The physician asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Nigeria is battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and armed gangs who carry out attacks and kidnappings for ransom, mostly in the northwest.