What a Gunman Told Me Before Allowing Me To Escape – Survivor of Owo Mass Shooting

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“Just by the fence, a guy was trying to scale the fence too before a gunman arrived and shot him dead.”

The priest was rounding up the Pentecost Mass at the Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo, on Sunday when gunshots rang behind Happiness Onuchu.

Quickly, she dashed towards the nearest exit: a door at the front of the church.

“I was sitting in front, there is a door at the extreme end there too, so we struggled out through that door,” said Ms Onuchu, a survivor of the attack.

“My friend and I were thinking of going to hide in the toilet but she said they might still come there then, we decided to scale the fence.”

Gunmen stormed the church, opened fire on the congregation and also detonated explosives as the worshippers scampered for safety.

At least 70 people were killed and injured, according to Oluwole Ogunmolasuyi, the lawmaker representing Owo Constituency I, who visited the scene shortly after the attack.

Police said the gunmen got to the church at about 11.30 a.m.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that the assailants approached the church during the service, started shooting from outside the church while others numbering about four shot directly into the church,” police said in a statement.

Ms Onuchu said her friend scaled the church’s fence but she was unable to do the same because she wore a tight gown.

“Just by the fence, a guy was trying to also scale the fence too before a gunman arrived and shot him dead. The gunman then asked me to climb the fence and that was how I escaped,” she said.

While many of the injured victims were taken to the Federal Medical Center, Owo, for treatment, the dead bodies were deposited at different morgues in the state.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the attack, condoled the victims and directed that flags be flown at half-mast in the state for seven days.

On Monday, traders at the popular Oja Oba Market in the community locked their shops to mourn the victims of the attack.

Ms Onuchu sustained injuries to her knee and has been treating it at a patent medicine store near her home.

She said it was difficult to know the identity of the attackers because they wore masks.

She also said many of the victims she knows are dead while some are currently recuperating in the hospital.

When this reporter visited St. Louis Catholic Hospital, some of the victims were seen groaning in pain.

Asked if she knew why the gunman spared her, Ms Onuchu said, “Maybe because he saw that I was really afraid and was also looking at him pitiably.”

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