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Nigerian Authorities Hold Mass Burial Ceremony for Victims of Church Massacre


Coffins are pictured during a une 17, 2022, memorial service for victims killed during an attack by gunmen during a June 5 mass at St. Francis Catholic Church, in Owo, Ondo, Nigeria.

Nigerian authorities in southwest Ondo state held a mass funeral Friday for victims of the massacre two weeks ago at a Catholic church. Authorities blame the Islamic State West African Province for the attack, which killed at least 40 worshippers and raised fears that the terrorist group is spreading from the north to other parts of Nigeria.

Owo resident Onyekachi Ozulumba woke up early Friday morning, dressed up quickly and went to his elder brother's house.

From there, they went to the mortuary to escort their mother's remains to the venue of the burial ceremony organized by the Ondo state Catholic diocese and state authorities.

Their mother, 85, was at St. Francis Catholic church on June 5 when armed men opened fire and detonated explosives.

Ozulumba said his mother was hit by an explosive. He

collected pieces of her body on a flat piece of wood.

At the venue, hundreds of people gathered to witness the funeral mass, including state and church officials.

As the bodies of the victims arrived, an already tense hall was filled with voices crying.

During the mass, church authorities denounced the attack and said the government must do more to protect citizens.

"I call on President Buhari and our leaders in the federal government or state government to wake up, sit up and act up to secure lives and properties all over Nigeria.," said Catholic Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, one of the officiating clergymen. "How many more must die? Does life really have any value anymore with you?"

Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu promised to improve security.

"What has happened to us in Owo is indescribable, I'm short of words," he said. "We still have over 70 in the hospital, some have been discharged. I'm here before you to accept a failure of security, we have failed to defend these people."

Nigeria is seeing increasing attacks by armed gangs as the country's general elections draw closer. Outgoing President Buhari promised to improve security when he was voted in seven years ago.

The Nigerian parliament is calling for a state of emergency in Ondo state. Also, an armed security unit in southwest Nigeria known as Amotekun, supported by regional authorities, has vowed to keep people safe and go after perpetrators of the church shooting.

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