Six people including a priest have been killed during Sunday mass at a Catholic church in Dablo in northern Burkina Faso.
According to the BBC, attackers opened fire in the church before burning it down. Attackers – numbering between 20 and 30 – then set alight local shops and a medical centre.
“Towards 9am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic church,” said Ousmane Zongo, the mayor of Dablo. “They started firing as the congregation tried to flee.”
It is the second attack on churches in Burkina Faso in a month.
Open Door’s persecution news service World Watch Monitor reports that Islamic extremism is on the rise in the West African nation, particularly in the country’s north (bordering Mali).
On April 28 gunmen attacked a Protestant church in Sirgadji village, also in northern Burkina Faso. A local leader told World Watch Monitor, “The assailants asked the Christians to convert to Islam, but the pastor and the others refused. They ordered them to gather under a tree and took their Bibles and mobile phones. Then they called them, one after the other, behind the church building where they shot them dead”.
In 2018 Islamic extremists in the north announced they intended to target Westerners and Western companies in kidnapping attacks. Four days before the most recent church attack four hostages were rescued by French special forces in the the north of the country. Two French soldiers were killed in the raid. Two French teachers were kidnapped while on safari close to the Burkina Faso northern border earlier this month. A US hostage and a South Korean hostage were also rescued.
In January 2016 Australian missionary doctor, 84-year-old Kenneth Elliot and his wife Jocelyn, were kidnapped from their clinic in Djibo by Islamic extremists also in north-western Burkina Faso. Jocelyn was freed three weeks later. Kenneth Elliot remains a hostage, three years later.