Missionaries and humanitarians from the U.S. and Canada lost their lives in terrorist attacks in Africa and Indonesia last week. The victims included a Canadian family.
When al Qaeda-linked terrorists stormed a hotel and cafe in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Friday evening, they killed an estimated 28 people. Among them were six members of a mission trip organized by a religious community in Quebec.
Terrorists of al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) killed at least 29 people of different nationalities in the attack against the Splendid Hotel, which is frequented by UN officials, and the nearby restaurant Le Cappuccino.
“People are still in shock. It is true that a similar incident had occurred recently in Mali, near our country, and many said that Burkina Faso could be targeted by terrorists,” Father Oscar Zoungrana, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Burkina Faso, told Fides news agency. “For many it was a surprise, because in our country a tragedy of this proportion has never happened.”
Burkina Faso has just ended a period of transition following the ouster of former president Blaise Compaore, which culminated with the election on November 29, and led to the designation of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré as new president.
According to the priest, the aim of the terrorists is not so much to destabilize the country as to “target foreigners to block the cooperation between African countries, such as Burkina Faso and Mali, and Europe and international institutions.”
Yves Carrier, a retired teacher, his wife, Gladys Chamberland, and their adult children Charlelie and Maude, from Lac-Beauport, Quebec, have been identified as four of the victims of the massacre, according to a report at CTV News. Others killed in the attack were Louis Chabot, a former teacher at Jean de brebeuf School in the Quebec City area.
Rose-Anne Rousseau, who helped coordinate the mission, said the group spent much of their time helping to paint and repair a school. She said that three of the Canadian victims had been planning on flying out of the country Friday evening,
They had been in the African capital since Christmas Eve, reported The Montreal Gazette.
In Burkina Faso, the group was doing work for several organizations, among them Congrégation des sœurs de Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours. The congregation, founded in 1892 in St-Damien-de-Buckland, has had a mission in Burkina Faso since 1955.
Sister Yolande Blier, a superior of the Quebec City religious community, said Yves Carrier and Chamberland were committed humanitarians who had made several trips to the region.
“I think they fell in love with Burkina Faso,” she said. “They loved the values of the Burkinabe, they loved the welcome there,” she said.
Friends of the victims described the dead with words and phrases like “beautiful soul,” “marvelous generosity” and “passionate about humanitarian trips.”
Michael Riddering, from Hollywood Community Church in Florida, also was killed in the attack. He and his wife, Amy Boyle-Riddering, ran an orphanage and women’s crisis center in Burkina Faso. Riddering was in the Cappuccino Cafe, where he was to meet Friday with a group of volunteers from West Pines Community Church in Pembroke Pines, Fla., according to The Miami Sun-Sentinel.
At the time of the attack, the Air France flight carrying the team from West Pines Community Church was still in the air and rerouted, according to a statement on the church’s website.
The group later flew into Burkina Faso, and on Sunday was safe and awaiting arrangements to return home.
The day before the Burkina Faso attack, another Quebec resident who was on a humanitarian trip, Tahar Amer-Ouali, was killed in a suicide bombing in Jakarta. The Islamic State group took credit for the attack, which took seven lives in the Indonesian capital.