It is estimated that more than 400 people have been slain during terror attacks in Burkina Faso since 2014.
Another Catholic Church in Burkina Faso has been attacked by a group of suspected Muslim extremists. The unprovoked incident claimed the lives of four parishioners and injured another two. The Vatican-based Fides agency was told by a source within the church that the attack appeared to be well planned.
The Tablet reports the same unidentified source went on to claim that the victims seemed specifically chosen in order to “strike leaders of the local faith community” and destabilize the country. The regularity of recent attacks, which have now claimed 20 Catholic lives since April, seems to support this claim.
The most recent incident took place at Our Lady of All Joy Church in the village of Toulfe, where armed assailants broke in during Sunday Mass and opened fire on the worshipers. Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso, urged Catholics to:
“Pray for peace and the conversion of the executioners.”
The Le Faso daily, a local Burkina Faso news outlet, reported that no group had taken responsibility for this latest attack. The government, however, has placed the blame on Muslim militants operating in the Sahel region from neighboring Mali.
The violence against Christians in the Western African country has been on the rise since April, when an attack at Silgadji, near the border with Mali, claimed the lives of a Protestant minister and five of his flock. On May 12, a group of assailants on motorbikes attacked a Catholic Mass, killing the priest and another five faithful, and on May 13 a group of masked men went after a church procession, taking the lives of another four.
Since the change in government administration, in 2014, it is estimated that at least 400 people have been slain in attacks on churches, schools and government buildings in Burkina Faso.
On May 22, just four days prior to the Our Lady of All Joy Church attack, the bishops’ conferences from French-speaking West African nations pledged their solidarity with their Christian communities. The Tablet reports that they urged governments and religious leaders to do more to counter “unlooked-for menaces, tragedies and catastrophes.”