LONDON -- Police said that some of the gunmen who attacked a church in southwestern Nigeria with worshippers on Sunday disguised themselves as congregants.
Several people were killed, including children and women, in the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state. It was more than 200 miles north of Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city and 200 miles southwest from Abuja, Nigeria's capital. According to Olumuyiwa Adejobi (a spokesperson for Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja), the church was hosting a Pentecost Sunday service when explosives were set off and gunshots rang out.
"Further investigation revealed that some gunmen disguised themselves as congregants while other armed men had positioned themselves around church premises from different directions and fired into the church," Adejobi stated in a Monday night statement.
According to Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami (a spokesperson for the Nigeria Police Force command in Ondo), an unknown number of gunmen approached the church during the service. They began shooting at worshippers while they attempted to flee.
The motive behind the attack was not immediately known, and no group has claimed liability. Police are yet to release information about the victims or identify the perpetrators.
Odunlami stated that "some lives were lost" and that some suffered varying degrees from injuries. He later told ABC News that the police have not yet provided an estimate.
The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria stated Monday that more than 50 parishioners had been killed and that the gunmen were "suspected bandits."
They fled the scene in a stolen Nissan Nissan and are still at large. According to Adejobi, the vehicle was recovered by police.
Adejobi stated that three undetonated improvised bomb devices (IEDs), fragments and detonated IEDs, as well as pellets of expended AK47 ammunition, were also recovered by police.
According to Adejobi, Nigerian Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba ordered a full-scale and comprehensive investigation into the incident. He also deployed specialized police units in an effort to track down the attackers.
Adejobi stated that he also assured that heartless murderers of innocent victims, especially children, would face the full wrath.
This report was contributed by James' Bwala, ABC News, Abuja, Nigeria.