An investigation into what appears to be the most deadly attack in the decade in south Nigeria continued on Monday, while authorities struggled to establish precise information about casualties.
The police, who have yet to release a death toll, said they had recovered unexploded improvised explosive devices and shells from AK-47 ammunition.
Some of the gunmen disguised as congregants, while other armed men who had positioned themselves around the church premises from different directions, fired into the church, national police spokesman Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejobi said in a statement.
He said a vehicle used by the assailants to escape had been recovered. Its owner was helping with investigations.
Inside the church, streaks of blood on the floors and walls, a broken lectern and pew, plaster debris and abandoned items including shoes and a well-thumbed Bible covered in shards of glass bore witness to the intensity of the violence.
Immediately they entered and started firing everywhere, so many people, said Mr. Alex Michael, who was shot in the leg while protecting his children by hiding them under chairs. He appeared dazed as he sat on his hospital bed.
Medical director Dr Ahmed Lasu said 13 children had been rushed to the hospital. Two were dead on arrival.
The Catholic Diocese of Ondo has confirmed that the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church said in a statement signed by local priests Rev. Fr. Augustine Ikwu, Director, that during the service unknown Gunmen attacked faithful killing and injuring dozens.
At this point in the history of our dear country Nigeria, we need God’s ultimate intervention to restore peace and tranquillity, he added.
Many shops in the town stayed closed. Security forces were on the streets and helicopters passed overhead.
Southwest Nigeria is home to the Yoruba ethnic group, who are divided roughly equally between Muslims and Christians. The two communities live side by side peacefully.