NB 247

No fewer than 23 persons have been killed in the terrorist attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, in Owo, Ondo State on Sunday morning.

Worshippers at the church were attacked by persons suspected to be armed bandits whom eyewitnesses said were of Fulani extraction.

Although no official word has been made on the number of casualties, a medical official informed our correspondent that 23 bodies had been admitted to the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre Owo, two of which are little children.

The official who would not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the 28 persons who are survivors are still receiving medical attention, noting that they sustained very serious injuries.

“Of the number, 17 are females while 11 are males,” the official said.

“They are relatively stable and are being attended to by general and orthopaedic surgeons at the hospital’s theatre.”

He also said that 13 children were rushed in immediate after the incident, but two arrived the hospital already dead.

“The other 10 children are receiving treatment and are relatively stable,” the source said.

An eyewitness who identified herself as Toyin, said the terrorists attacked the church while the priest was rounding off proceedings of the service.

“They first started by throwing in explosives into the church hall, which sent the worshipers scampering for safety,” she said.

“It was while they were running for safety that the attackers started shooting at them.

“It initially thought that the Reverend Father was kidnapped, but he was not kidnapped, he survived the attack.”

However, the Ondo State Police Command has reacted to the attack, saying it had deployed its Anti Bomb Squad to the scene of the incident and was making efforts to arrest those responsible for the attack.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Oyeyemi Oyediran, in terse statement on Sunday, said his command was aware of the incident and was making efforts to ensure peace in the area.

He urged residents to be calm as the necessary security apparatus had been moved in to ensure security of lives and property.

“All effort is underway to arrest those responsible for this evil,” the statement. noted.

The command also said a full report would be made available to the public once the needed information had been gathered.

Also the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has expressed sadness over the attack.

The governor who is away in Abuja said on Sunday that the perpetrators would be tracked down and made to pay for their evil acts.

“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,” the governor said in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde.

“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.

“I urge our people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies. I have equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.”

The Medical Director of FMC Owo, was not picking his call when he was reached for updates on the developments.

He was yet to respond to a text message sent to him on Whatsapp.

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