Nigeria church attack: Woman loses both parents in Owo mass shooting that killed dozens

A local lawmaker told CNN Monday that “close to 50 people, including children” were killed after attackers stormed into St. Francis Catholic Church in the city of Owo and began “shooting sporadically.”

“The death toll was quite large,” said Adeyemi Olayemi, the legislator representing the Owo constituency in the Ondo State House of Assembly. “So far, we have counted close to 50 dead bodies, including children. I saw the bodies of many kids.”

Olayemi added that “the attackers came in motorcycles and started shooting sporadically … they killed many people inside the church.”

Laide Ajanaku lost her both parents in the gruesome attack.

“We heard it was an explosion at first, then we started panicking and calling everyone for information,” Ajanaku told CNN Monday.

Laide Ajanaku pictured with her parents John Adesina Ajanaku and Olabimpe Susanah Ajanaku.

“Somebody had my dad’s phone. I still don’t know who that person was. The person picked up and said my dad had been injured and had been taken to the hospital, but he didn’t know anything about my mum’s whereabouts. He later said my dad didn’t make it. We eventually got through to a priest friend who confirmed that my mum had died as well.”

Ajanaku said her parents’ bodies were later identified at the morgue. Her father John Adesina Ajanaku, 67, and her mother Olabimpe Susanah, 64, never missed church on a Sunday, she said.

Mass shooting at Nigeria church kills dozens, says local lawmaker

“They were never in my mind that they had missed the attack at the very least, but I didn’t. know that they would be so affected,” Ajanaku said, adding that the church can hold about 500 people when full.

State police could not confirm the total number of casualties, a police spokesperson told CNN Sunday, nor could they yet identify those behind the attack.

A police statement said, “the assailants started shooting the church during the service from outside the while others numbering about four shot directly into the church,” citing a preliminary investigation.

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said he was “shocked” by the attack and called it a “black Sunday in Owo.”

Ajanaku said her parents were always together, even in death. She said she wasn’t surprised they died together, as one couldn’t live without the other.

More than 30 people, including children, killed in stampede at church event in Nigeria
Pope Francis said he was praying for the victims who were “painfully attacked at a time of celebration,” a statement from the Vatican said.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari described the fatal shooting of Owo worshipers as “heinous” adding that the country “shall never give in to evil and wicked people.”
Lethal attacks by motorbike-riding gangs are rare in southwestern Nigeria. Such attacks are more widespread in large parts of the country’s north, which is constantly under siege by Boko Haram terrorists and marauding gunmen known locally as ‘bandits.’
The Owo church attack comes one week after another church tragedy when 31 people were killed and others injured during a stampede at a church event in the southeastern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt.

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