Pope Francis has described as "shameful" attacks on worshippers at St. Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu.

At least 11 worshippers were gunned down at a church in Anambra State, Nigeria on Sunday, with authorities suggesting the bloodshed was due to a local feud.

"I have been profoundly saddened by the massacre last Sunday in Nigeria, inside a church, where innocent people were killed," the pontiff said at the end of his weekly public audience at the Vatican.

"I hope all forms of hate and violence will cease and such shameful crimes in places of worship, where the faithful are gathered to pray, will not be repeated," he added.

Attacks on churches are rare in southern Nigeria, where there is a predominantly Christian population.

It was learned that trouble started for worshippers who were in church for the 6:00am Mass, when at about 6:45am, the gunmen rode into the church in a Lexus SUV, as one of them entered the church and shot at close range an elderly man, later identified as Pa Ikegwuonu, while others remained in the vehicle outside.

Pa Ikegwuonu is the father of Aloysius Ikegwuonu, a businessman from Amakwa, who built and donated the church to Nnewi Diocese, while his wife was shot on her right arm and still on admission at the teaching hospital.

It was gathered that the gunmen were looking for his son, Aloysius, who was said to have returned to the village on Saturday and left later in the day.

According to a source who spoke to Vanguard, the gunmen had thought their target was in the church and had wanted to deal decisively with him over a yet-to-be ascertained business deal.

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