50 Killed In Nigeria Church Attack


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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

ABUJA (Worthy News) – ’s Cardinal John Onaiyekan has condemned the shooting by suspected herdsmen at a in his nation which killed over 50 people, including children.

The Pentecost Sunday attack in the town of Owo in the country’s southwestern Ondo State saw shooters opening fire on worshippers in the of St. Francis Xavier, Cardinal Onaiyekan said.

While no group claimed responsibility, the cardinal confirmed that eyewitnesses described them as Muslim herdsmen. Pope Francis expressed his grief, saying he is praying for the country, “painfully attacked at a time of celebration.”

Cardinal Onaiyekan cautioned that the attack is only the latest in a long series of violent episodes in which innocent people have been killed, many of them Christians.

Most attacks, in which thousands were killed in recent years, have been carried out by Islamic fighters, including Muslim herdsmen and terror groups. Yet, “This particular one yesterday on the Feast of Pentecost was particularly shocking,” the cardinal told Radio.

The cardinal stressed he did not want to blame all Muslims but added it is impossible to avoid people “having a sense of feeling that they are attacked because they are Christians.”

GROWING TENSIONS

He said the attack “does not help in the efforts we are making” to improve ties between Muslims and Christians. “We know that the only solution to the problem is that Christians and Muslims join hands and face these criminals together.”

The government and other authorities urged citizens not to rush to conclusions but to wait for their investigation. “We are waiting, but we don’t want to wait forever,” the cardinal said, adding that there is very little trust in the government’s measures.

There were many cases, he explained, where the government condemned what happened, promised to pursue the killers… “and then nothing happens.”

He says he hopes upcoming ejections will make a difference. Current President Muhammadu Buhari has come under pressure to improve security for Christians in a country where Muslims are a slight majority.

The former ruler swept to a historic election victory in March 2015 when he became the first opposition candidate to win a Nigerian presidential poll. He may face former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who can run in next year’s presidential election, a court ruled in late May.

Jonathan, a who was president from 2010 to 2015, has not yet said if he intends to contest the election. His spokesperson said recently he would not seek the ruling All Progressive (APC) party’s ticket, although a group of supporters from northern Nigeria bought nomination forms for him.

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