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Market Shut In Owo As Traders Mourn Victims Of Church Shooting

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Traders at the popular Oja Oba Market in Owo, Ondo State, locked their shops Monday to mourn the victims of the deadly shooting at a church in the town on Sunday.

Gunmen stormed Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, as worshippers were marking the Feast of Pentecost and opened fire on the congregation.

They also detonated explosives as the worshippers scampered for safety.

At least 70 people were killed and injured, according to Oluwole Ogunmolasuyi, the lawmaker representing Owo Constituency I, who visited the scene shortly after the attack.

Police said the gunmen got to the church at about 11.30 a.m.

The police and the state government are, however, yet to confirm the number of people killed.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that the assailants approached the church during the service, started shooting from outside the church while others numbering about four shot directly into the church,” the police said in a statement.

As of Monday afternoon, bloodstains and a few body parts were still visible in the church.

Fragments of the shattered pulpit at the altar were strewn across the floor.

A stream of humans flowed in and out of the church, some muttering curses at the killers, others wiping tears from their faces.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu visited the scene of the attack, condoled the victims, and directed that flags be flown at half-mast in the state for seven days.

A yam seller at the Oja Oba Market who identified herself as Iya Idris said her shop will remain closed for two weeks.

“What money am I looking for that will make me open this shop today?” she said.

“Even if no one is asking us to lock our shops, I won’t still open this shop. I couldn’t sleep over the night…”

The trader burst into tears mid-speech.

About seven shops away, another trader, Sulaiman Kemisola, charged Sango worshippers to invoke their god against the perpetrators.

“This is the time to enjoy the beauty of our traditional worshippers, let them give oil to ‘Esu’ and provoke Sango, and its worshippers should not be allowed to sleep until the perpetrators are brought to book.

“Not just that, let other custodians of other deities in Owo land also send their deities after the evil perpetrators. I am ready to contribute money toward that if need be.”

An aged woman, identified as Iya Sinatu, who lives near the palace of the Olowo of Owo, appealed to the federal government to do all within its powers in ensuring the killers are brought to book.

The attack has been condemned by Nigerians and the international community.

The global head of the Catholic church, Pope Francis, on Monday, condemned the ‘unspeakable violence.’

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack at Saint Francis church in Owo in #Nigeria. #PrayTogether for all those affected by this act of unspeakable violence and for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence,” the Pope wrote on Twitter.

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