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08/15/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) Five suspects were arrested for attacking a Catholic church in Nigeria and killing approximately 40 people in June. The announcement came last week, two months after the attack took place. 

The attack occurred on June 5 inside the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, in southwestern Ondo state. Because the investigation is still ongoing, the gunmen’s identities have not yet been revealed to the public. However, Nigerian authorities believe that the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram offshoot, was behind the attack. 

The shooters were armed with AK-47 rifles and explosives and attacked as people gathered for worship during Pentecost mass.  

Terrorist groups such as ISWAP have killed tens of thousands of Christians in Nigeria and displaced millions in an attempt to discard western influence and impose strict Islamic Sharia law. “ISWAP, which split from the mainstream Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant group, focusing on military targets and high-profile attacks, including against aid workers,” wrote Sahara Reporters. “The Nigerian army has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency has been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.” 

The suspects’ arrest is a positive step towards justice for those who were murdered in the church massacre, but more needs to be done to prevent the spread of these Islamic militant attacks. 

Northern Nigeria has been plagued with violence from ISWAP and other similar groups, and now the southwestern region is seeing similar incidents. Ondo state is not the typical place for ISWAP attacks, which suggests that the Islamic rebels are spreading out. It is becoming increasingly clear that these massacres must be addressed before the violence can spread further. 

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