The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi has confirmed the killing of two of its priests, Reverend Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, in an early hour attack on St Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor-Mbalom in Gwer West Local Government Council of Benue on Tuesday.
A statement by its director of communications, Reverend Father Moses Iorapuu, said that the attacks were perpetrated by herdsmen who stormed the Mbalom community and killed the two priests during the morning mass at the church.
The diocese expressed regret at the nonchalant attitude of the security agencies in containing the killings.
It said the herdsmen, who stormed the community, burnt down houses, destroyed crops and killed people.
The church, therefore, urged the relevant authorities to stop the killings in the Benue valley.
Iorapuu said the diocese had been active in providing food and relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) since the outset of hostilities in the state and wondered why it could be marked as a target of attacks.
“The attack on the priests is an attack on everything that we ever stood for and believed in,” said Iorapuu.
Reverend Father Gor had before the attack written on Facebook: “Living in fear. The Fulani herdsmen are still around us in Mbalom. They refuse to go. They still go grazing around us. No weapons to depend on ourselves.”
Herdsmen in the early hours of the morning attacked a Catholic Church and parishioners who went for 5.30am mass. Seventeen other people were also killed
The bodies of the dead have been taken to St. Theresa’s Hospital Makurdi.
President Muhammadu Buhari has described as vile and satanic the killing of worshippers and two priests at a Catholic church.
Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President on Media and Publicity disclosed this in a statement, issued on Tuesday in Abuja.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the government and people of Benue State, the Mbalom community, and especially the bishop, priests and members of the St Ignatius’ Catholic Church, whose premises was the unfortunate venue of the heinous killings by gunmen.
“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable.
“Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting,” the president said.