Hell was let loose in the early hours yesterday at Oba-Ofemmili community in Awka-North Local Government Area of Anambra State, when some youths, suspected to be cultists attacked Christians in their worship places, shot and inflicted machete wounds on over 50 of them.
The attackers also went on rampage, looting and burning churches in the community. Some of the churches burnt include Assemblies of God Church, Grace of God Church, Deeper Life Bible Church, Winners Church, Christ Holy Church, St. Paul’s Catholic Church and another pentecostal church.
The assailants, according to the victims, attacked the worshippers with dangerous weapons, shooting sporadically and wounding several people. They were said to have invaded no fewer than seven churches, burning and destroying everything within their reach.
A two-year old baby was among the victims.
It was gathered that trouble started in the community over disagreement between the Christians and the idol worshippers on the cultural night masquerade, a local fetish cult opposed by Christians in the area.
A victim of the incident, who gave his name as Mr Sunday Aliuba, said they were in the church when the miscreants stormed their church, armed with guns and machetes. He said they swooped on the congregation and inflicted machete wounds on them, causing stampede as people struggled to escape from the church.
Hear him: “How it happened was that Oba-Ofemili and the Christians had an agreement that the night masquerades will not start by 9pm, and we were having our programmes according to the rules. But on Monday night, I was at the crusade when we heard that the pagans will burn down all the churches. Around 11pm, they started shooting sporadically into the air, causing everybody to shiver. Around 1.00am on Tuesday, they stormed the church, and razed down the parish priest’s house and pursued everybody in the church. We hid under the staircase and under the pews.
“In self-defence, we pounced on some of them. As it got hotter, my colleagues ran away. I also ran but they pursued me and shot me in the legs, shattering my ankles and bones. They also inflicted machete wounds on me. The blood that came out of my body can fill two buckets. It is only God that is sustaining my life till now.”
When contacted, the priest of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, whose parish church was razed, Rev. Pat. Odinanwa, said series of efforts made to ensure peace in the community between the church and the community failed. He said the pagans nursed pathological hatred for Christians in the community. According to him, there were agreements reached between the church and the community, but the pagans sought all avenues to stop Christians from worshipping God in the community.
According to him, over 50 persons sustained gunshot and machete wounds, while seven churches were burnt by the irate youths. He said Christians in the area had been living in fear, as the youths threatened further attack today.