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Gun attack on Nigerian Catholic church leaves 11 dead

By Sarah Mac Donald - 08 August, 2017

“The gunmen came thinking that their target was in the church but he was not.”

St Philip’s Catholic church in Ozubulu.

Pope Francis sent a message of condolence on Monday following a deadly attack on a Catholic church in southeastern Nigeria on Sunday which left 11 people dead and 18 others wounded.

Gunmen opened fire on worshippers who had gathered early on Sunday morning at St Philip’s Catholic church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha.

In his message to the bishop of the diocese of Nnewi, Dr Paul Odili Okeke, the Pope said he was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury.

He extended his “heartfelt condolences” to “all the faithful of the diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy.”

Police believe the attack may have been linked to drug trafficking and was carried out following a feud between local residents and member of the community living outside Nigeria.

According to Garba Umar, head of police in Anambra state, the gunmen are believed to have been trying to kill a local man.

“The gunmen came thinking that their target was in the church but he was not,” Umar said, adding that the violence may be linked to drug-trafficking and a feud.

“The killings have become so cheap and ordinary – Boko Haram in the northeast, Badoo in Lagos, herdsmen across the country, and ritual killings everywhere. Why have we lost our respect for human life?” Ekiti governor Ayo Fayose asked.

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari, who is receiving medical treatment in London, described the attack as “an appalling crime against humanity and unspeakable sacrilege.”

He said there was “no justification whatsoever to target Church worshippers and kill them in cold blood.”

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