Armed ViolenceNews

Nigerian Gov’t Says ISWAP Responsible For Church Massacre In Southwest

The attack in Owo town in Ondo, southwestern Nigeria, by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) resulted in the killing of at least 50 people, including women and children.

On Thursday, June 9, the Nigerian government said the attack on a Catholic church in Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria, which left about 40 people dead and several others injured, was carried out by the Islamic State West Province (ISWAP) terror group.

The revelation was made at the end of a security meeting presided over by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, North-central Nigeria. 

Rauf Aregbesola, Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, told journalists at the end of the meeting that security agencies were still investigating and trailing the terrorists.

Aregbesola debunked insinuations that the attacks had ethnic or religious colouration.

The attackers detonated explosives and launched a barrage of gunfire targeting worshipers gathered for mass at the St Francis Catholic Church in Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State on Sunday, June 5, during service. 

The attack in Ondo State is the first attack linked to ISWAP in the Southwest by either the group or the Federal Government. It is part of a new trend of ISWAP attacks outside its centre of gravity in the three states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. 

HumAngle has previously reported a series of attacks, including the use of improvised explosive devices in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Taraba and Kogi in the northcentral part of the country. 

ISWAP has also attacked police officers in Kogi and the town of Suleja in the north-central state of Niger, near the country’s capital city. The group has also claimed responsibility for attacks in Kaduna and Gombe. 

Illustration credit: Mansir Muhammed/HumAngle

Owo, the location of the latest attack, is not far away from Kabba in Kogi State, an area, according to multiple sources, used by ISWAP as a transit camp for the violent expansionist campaign in the region. 

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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