Six Killed in Church Attack in Northern Burkina Faso
Six people died in the attack on a Protestant church in Burkina Faso on Sunday in Silgadji, in the north of the country, just as the Sunday service was concluding. According to security sources, “unidentified armed individuals” arrived on motorcycles, shooting and killing six people, including the pastor, Pierre Ouedraogo, and two of his sons.
Burkina Faso, which boasts of a history of religious tolerance, has been beset by a rise in attacks as groups based in neighboring Mali seek to extend their influence over the Sahel, the arid scrubland south of the Sahara.
The government declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces bordering Mali in December because of deadly Islamist attacks, including in Soum, the region where Sunday’s attack took place.
Spokesman Remy Fulgance Dandjinou said on Monday that the latest attack was the first to target a church in the majority Muslim country where religious groups have historically lived together peacefully and frequently intermarried.
“Armed groups…have every interest in troubling or going against the good understanding between religions. We have observed this strategy in other countries in the region and in the world,” said Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa Project Director at International Crisis Group.
Government spokesman Dandjinou told Reuters the attack took place in the commune of Silgadji. He said he was unable to provide more detail on the attack or the perpetrators.
The prayer of Pope Francis for the victims
The ad interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, told Vatican News: “The Holy Father has learned with sorrow the news of a new attack on a church in Burkina Faso” and that he is praying “for the victims and their families and the entire Christian community in the country”.
Photo: Vatican News