Five suspects arrested in Nigeria Catholic church massacre

FILE PHOTO: Coffins are pictured during a memorial service for victims killed during an attack by gunmen during a Sunday mass service at St. Francis Catholic Church, in Owo, Ondo, Nigeria June 17, 2022. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

ABUJA (Reuters) -Nigeria has arrested five suspects in an Islamist militant attack in a Catholic church that killed 40 people in early June, Chief of Defence Staff General Leo Irabor said on Tuesday.

Nigerian authorities have said they suspect insurgent group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) carried out the massacre of members of a congregation inside the St Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state on June 5.

ISWAP is waging an insurgency in the northeast but claims that it carried out the attack far away from its enclave have raised concern that the group is expanding its footprint in Nigeria.

Irabor said in a statement in Abuja that the attackers were arrested during joint operations involving the armed forces, the Department of Security Services and police. He did not say where and when the arrests were made.

He said he could not parade the suspects due to ongoing investigations.

“I will like to say that in due course, the world will see them and others who are behind other daring attacks in the country,” Irabor said.

Arakunrin Akeredolu, the governor for Ondo state, said a person who had provided accommodation to the suspects before the attack was also arrested.

ISWAP has claimed responsibility for a string of low level attacks as well as daring jail break in Abuja in early July that freed more than 400 inmates.

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