Sources told ABC News Wednesday that more than 80 people were killed in Sunday's attack at a church in southwestern Nigeria.
According to a source familiar with the investigation, the bodies of 82 victims were found in a local morgue. A second source who was briefed on U.S. intelligence assessments said that the estimated number of victims was more than 80. They spoke under the condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to talk to the media about the ongoing investigation. The spokesperson for Nigeria Police Force told ABC News Wednesday that the investigation is ongoing and they cannot confirm the death toll.
Richard Olatunde was a spokesperson for Ondo's governor. He said that there were 40 casualties and 86 injured. Of those, 61 are still in hospital. These numbers are probably underestimated.
The violence occurred at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state. It is located more than 200 miles northwest from Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city and 200 miles southwest Abuja, Nigeria's capital. According to police, the church was hosting a Pentecost Sunday service when explosives were detonated. Gunshots rang out around 11:15 a.m. local.
Police said that several gunmen disguised themselves as congregants entered the church and opened fire on worshippers. Other armed men positioned around the church also fired at worshippers and in different directions as they attempted to flee.
Police also reported that they recovered three undetonated improvised bomb devices (IEDs), fragments of detonated IEDs, and pellets of expended AK-47 ammo.
Police have not yet identified the perpetrators and it is unknown how many. The motive behind the massacre is not yet known, and no group has claimed it.
In a statement issued Monday by the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria, it stated that the gunmen were "suspected bandits."
On Monday, Owo's Federal Medical Center, which was treating the victims of the attack, reported to ABC News that they had an urgent need for blood donors.
According to police, Usman Alkali Baba, Nigerian Inspector General of Police has ordered a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the incident. He has also deployed specialized police units in an effort to track down the attackers.
Ondo, considered one of Nigeria's most peaceful state, was the victim of Sunday's attack. Violent attacks and ransom kidnappings have been a growing problem in West Africa.