World #2 – Islamic jihadists attack 3rd church in a month in Burkina Faso

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on May 14, 2019

(by Daniel Uria, UPI) — Islamic militants killed six people attending mass at a Catholic church in Burkina Faso on Sunday morning, officials said.

Witnesses said the priest and five churchgoers were killed and several others were injured in the attack on the Catholic Church of Dablo in the landlocked West African country, VOA Africa reported.

“They were about 40 on motorcycles,” a witness said. “They made everyone lie down, executed five before torching the church.”

The attackers stormed the mass on Sunday morning and then proceeded to set fire to the church and surrounding shops.

Burkina Faso has experienced terrorist attacks on Christians since April 2015 and last month six people, including a pastor, were killed by armed assailants on motorcycles at a Protestant church in the community of Sigadji.  [Prior to that, four Christians were killed in the town of Dori, according to a Catholic bishop there, who said armed men also destroyed parts of the town.]

Dablo, Silgadji and Dori are all in the north of Burkina Faso, which has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadi groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

The effect of the attack on Dablo has been striking, according to its mayor, Ousmane Zongo. Beyond the grief of the affected families and the wider community, Zongo told the AFP the town is gripped with fear.

“Towards 9:00am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic Church,” Zongo, told AFP. “They started firing as the congregation tried to flee. They burned down the church, then shops and a small restaurant before going to the health center where they searched the premises and set fire to the head nurse’s vehicle. The city is filled with panic.  People are holed up in their homes, nothing is going on. The shops and stores are closed. It’s practically a ghost town.”

Burkina Faso has allied with other nations in the region, including Niger, Chad, and Mali, as it works to fight Islamist extremists operating in the country. France, once a colonial power in the region, is supporting these efforts with more than 4,000 troops. The US also has a counterterrorism presence in the area.]

The population of the country is 61.5 percent Muslim, 23.3 percent Roman Catholic and 6.5 percent Protestant, according to the 2010 census.

From UPI .com on May 12, with Agence France-Presse and Vox News. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission.



Who are the terrorists attacking Christians in Burkina Faso?

  • Islamist groups have been blamed for a number of attacks in the West African nation in recent years.
  • Fighters affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group as well as the local Ansarul Islam have been active in the region.
  • Last month, attackers targeted a Protestant church in the town of Silgadji, killing at least six people
  • And earlier in April, four people were killed when a Catholic church was attacked in a nearby village, the bishop of Dori in northern Burkina Faso said.

What's the wider picture?

  • Burkina Faso is among countries in the vast Sahel region battling Islamist insurgencies.
  • It formed a regional force, G5 Sahel, along with Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Mali to take on the militants.
  • In January, Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba resigned amid growing pressure over a rise in kidnappings and jihadist attacks, and Christophe Joseph Marie Dabiré was named his replacement.
  • France, a former colonial ruler in the region, has some 4,500 troops in four nations carrying out a mission codenamed Barkhane to counter jihadists.

(from a May 12 BBC report)