Islamic Jihadists attacked a Catholic church with bullets and explosives during a Pentacostal mass last week. At least 50 people were killed in the attack and dozens more were wounded.
No specific organization has claimed responsibility for the attack but Nigeria recently surpassed countries like Syria and Iraq for attacks by the Islamic State. The country has suffered 162 attacks since January of 2022. Boko Haram is another Islamic organization that has conducted attacks in Nigeria since 2014 as well.
It had been reported that the parish priest responsible for the church was kidnapped, but church officials later determined that these reports were unfounded. Pope Francis also condemned the attack, and pledged support and prayers for the affected church. Thousands also gathered in Nigeria to pray for the victims of the attack.
President Biden has yet to make a formal statement. The Biden administration State Department came under fire last year for removing Nigeria from the countries of particular concern list for religious freedom. This happened even though Christians have consistently suffered violent attacks like the church massacre for the last decade.
Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said in a statement called it a vile and satanic attack. Other officials lamented at the audacity of the terror attack. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also condemned the attack. He admitted that he has been unable to stem the tide of Islamic violence, a key promise of his previous election platform.
Protests are beginning to spread across the country in response to the attacks. Akeredolu’s opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), came out with a statement claiming that the government was complicit in the attacks by its inaction. The PDP went further and implied that the attack could be a false flag orchestrated to influence upcoming elections.
The attack will only lead to further instability in the country. In 2021 it was estimated that at least 8.7 million people are at risk of a humanitarian crisis. As violence roils the country with the resultant instability, that number will only increase. If the Nigerian government does not take strong action it could find itself out of power and more Christians will die.