ABUJA, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Nigerian authorities on Friday held a mass burial for victims of the gunmen's attack on a church in the country's southwestern state of Ondo earlier this month.
A total of 22 bodies were prepared for burial Friday in Owo, a town in Ondo, where the attack occurred at the St. Francis Catholic Church on June 5, according to Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of the state, who spoke at a mass ahead of the funeral.
"We have failed to defend these people. Not because we have not tried, but because these forces on the other side are evil and they have support. They will not triumph over us forever," Akeredolu said.
A total of 40 people were killed in the attack, with at least 61 others injured. But the governor said 18 bodies had been earlier buried by their families who could not wait for the mass burial arrangement made by the authorities.
Last week, the Nigerian government blamed the Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP), an extremist group, for the attack.
The Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola told reporters at a press briefing in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that security agencies were zeroing on the ISWAP militants who were suspected of carrying out the attack, though no arrest has been made so far.
Aregbesola said security agencies were directed to go after the perpetrators of the attack and bring them to justice while stressing that the attack had no ethnic-religious connection and affirming that the ISWAP militant group's activity had nothing to do with "real religion".
In an earlier statement, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the heinous killing of worshippers. ■