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OMOKU, Nigeria (ChurchMilitant.com) - A gunman killed multiple Catholic worshippers leaving Midnight Mass in Nigeria.
On Monday, 14 Catholics were killed and 12 injured as they returned from church in the town of Omoku on New Year's Eve. A police source from the incident reported, "Fourteen persons died on the spot, while 12 who sustained gunshot wounds were rushed to the hospital and are receiving medical attention."
The gunmen coordinated the attack from two separate places, the Kirigani and Oboh axis of Aligu, before firing on the victims at 12:20 a.m. "The gunmen opened fire on a set of worshippers at about 12.30 a.m. on Monday," said Ugochi Olugbo, whose family member was one of the slain.
The Nigeria Independent
Rivers State Police have promised that the attackers will be prosecuted once they are caught and identified.
"The Deputy Commissioner of Police [DCP] in charge of operation and other tactical heads have been mobili[z]ed there to restore peace," said Nnamdi Omoni, the public relations officer. "The Commissioner of police, Ahmed Zaki, has also launched a manhunt for the bandits to ensure they are arrested and prosecuted."
"When the DCP and the teams there conclude we will know the total number of people involved," Omoni continued.
Omoku is outside of Port Harcourt
, a major oil center and capital of Rivers State. Despite the wealth accumulated from oil production, poverty continues in Rivers State, along with government corruption and powerful criminal bandits who engage in violent wars for control of land.
Christians have been a major target of Islamist jihadists in Nigeria. Since 2009, Boko Haram
, an ISIS-connected group of terrorists, have killed thousands of Christians and displaced 2.3 million Nigerians. In 2017, there have been about 20 attacks on Nigerian Christians by Islamic terrorists, including the kidnapping
of two priests, Jesuit Fr. Samuel Okwuidegbe and Fr. Maurizio Pallù.
Boko Haram has also recruited Fulani herdsmen
to butcher and burn alive hundreds of Christian families.
In 2016, Nigeria began a national Rosary campaign
, praying for the defeat of Boko Haram, whose defeat
was announced that December by the president of Nigeria.
The Church in Nigeria has more than 24 million Catholics and is known for its orthodoxy and strong defense of Catholic teaching on homosexuality, contraception and abortion. Conversions and vocations are also on the upswing in the country.
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