Pope Reacts To Ozubulu Massacre Says...
- Ngozi Oguejiofor
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Pope Francis has reacted to the Sunday shooting in Anambra State, saying that he was “deeply saddened” by the attack and invoked “the divine blessings of consolation and strength” upon the diocese.
The Vatican’s secretary of state wrote a condolence message on Monday to Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke of Nnewi, the diocese that oversees the church.
According to the police commissioner for Anambra State, Garba Umar said the shooting was “not unconnected to a kind of a ‘gang war’ ” involving drug lords active in both Nigeria and South Africa.
“We are dealing with a dangerous gang war that has spilled over to Anambra State from another African country,” the state’s governor, Willie Obiano, said after visiting the church and a hospital where victims of the shooting were being treated.
“All of the shadowy characters behind this crime shall account for it,” he added.
“This is the first and the last of this appalling crime.”
According to the authorities, gunmen drove up to the gate of the Catholic Church of St. Philip in the town of Ozubulu, about 16 miles south of the city of Onitsha, around 6 a.m. on Sunday, and stopped halfway through the gate, blocking it.
Men then marched to the front of the church, near the altar, and opened fire as worshippers scattered for safety. Some of the gunmen blocked the exit door.
Among the 12 dead in Ozubulu was the father of Aloysius Ikegwuonu, 36, a wealthy local magnate who had helped build the church.
Witnesses said that the gunmen been searching for Mr Ikegwuonu, who lives in the area, and that they had gone to the church to find him.