In a pre-dawn attack on a church vigil, unidentified gunmen stormed a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in southwest Nigeria’s Ogun State, leaving the pastor dead and abducting seven worshippers.

The incident occurred around midnight on Saturday at the Desires of Nations Parish in Abule-Ori, Obafemi Owode Local Government Area.

Police Public Relations Officer of the state command Omolola Odutola told The Punch that a fellow pastor identified the slain pastor as Pastor Kayode Oluwakemi, 56. He reportedly sustained bullet wounds to his chest and died at the scene. 

“He was in church with other pastors and church members, when some hoodlums numbering about seven invaded their church, attacked them with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons with intent to Kidnap members,” Odutola said. 

Ogun State Social Orientation and Safety Corps Commander Soji Ganzallo said his officers rescued the seven congregants during a tense operation, Nigeria’s Daily Post reported. Officers engaged the kidnappers in a fierce exchange of gunfire, leaving one of the assailants dead and several others critically injured, according to Ganzallo.

“The officers were charged to go after the suspects to rescue the victims unhurt and swung into action immediately,” Ganzallo said in a statement. “The seven victims were rescued unhurt, while one of the kidnappers was killed, and many of the suspects sustained serious injury during a fire exchange.”

The brutal attack has left the parish and the broader community in shock and mourning.

The commander added that a joint team, comprising the police and the So-Safe Corps, is already pursuing the remaining kidnappers, who managed to escape. He underscored that the objective was to capture them alive, to face justice for their brutal crimes.

Ganzallo also stated that the body of the slain kidnapper had been retrieved and deposited at a nearby morgue.