Lagos – Families of victims from a church attack this month in southwest Nigeria on Friday held a funeral mass for the 40 people killed in the gun and bomb assault.
The violence at Saint Francis Catholic church in Ondo State drew international condemnation and was a rare attack in the country’s usually safer southwest region.
Government officials say they suspect Islamic State West Africa Province was behind the June 5 attack, though the group usually operates far away in the country’s northeast where a jihadist insurgency has been grinding on for more than a decade.
Families gathered for a mass ceremony in a hall in Owo in Ondo State, with a line of coffins laid out before the congregation.
“We are here today for this service, the last service for those who were killed mindlessly on June 5,” Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu told the families.
“The good lord, he is the only who can console the families.”
One of the coffins had a pair of policeman’s boots placed on top for the officer who was killed.
Some families had already buried their relatives, others were to carry out burials after the ceremony.
No group has claimed the attack.
Police said gunmen hid among worshippers inside the church during a Sunday service and others also opened fire on the congregation from outside.
At least one blast detonated inside the church and three unexploded improvised explosive devices were also found.
A priest conducting the service told AFP some worshippers hid in the vestry with others, including children, for about 20 minutes before emerging to carnage.
The attack drew widespread international criticism, including from Pope Francis.
Nigeria’s military and police are battling on several fronts, with jihadist groups in the north-east, criminal gangs in the north-west and centre and separatist violence in the southeast.