Four Catholics die in latest Burkina Faso church attack
Suspected Muslim extremists attacked another Catholic church in Burkina Faso, killing four people and raising the death toll among Christians to 20 in wave of violence in the West Africa nation.
The worshippers were killed when armed assailants broke into Our Lady of All Joy Church in the village of Toulfe during Mass last Sunday and opened fire, Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso, said in a statement. Two people, including an elderly catechist, were wounded, he said.
The bishop urged Catholics to “pray for peace and the conversion of the executioners.”
The Le Faso daily said no group had claimed responsibility for the attack, but reported that the government had blamed Muslim militants operating in the Sahel region from neighbouring Mali.
The violence was the most recent against Christian churches in the country. Masked attackers murdered four people during a Church procession on 13th May in Zimtenga; a priest and five lay Catholics were killed by assailants on motorbikes during a Mass on 12th May in Dablo; and a Protestant pastor with five followers died in an attack on 29th April in Silgadji near the border with Mali.
Overall, at least 400 people have died in attacks on churches, schools and government buildings in Burkina Faso, whose mostly Muslim-inhabited northern provinces have been targeted by extremists since the October 2014 ouster of President Blaise Compaore.
In a communique released last week, bishops’ conferences from French-speaking West Africa nations pledged solidarity with Christian communities and urged governments and religious leaders to do more to counter “unlooked-for menaces, tragedies and catastrophes.”
A Church source told the Vatican-based Fides agency on Tuesday that the attacks appeared well planned, adding that victims had been deliberately chosen to “strike leaders of the local faith community” and destabilise the country.Tags: Bishop Justin Kientega, Burkina Faso, catholics, Christians, church attacks, Muslim extremists, violence, west Africa