A priest has been killed in the latest violent attack perpetrated against the Christian community of Burkina Faso. Five others were murdered when militants opened fire on a local church congregation in the northern town of Dablo as they gathered for mass.
“Armed individuals burst into the Catholic church… They started firing as the congregation tried to flee,” said the town mayor, Ousmane Zongo, according to AFP. “They killed five of them. The priest, who was celebrating mass, was also killed.”
“There is an atmosphere of panic in the town. People are holed up in their homes, nothing is going on. The shops and stores are closed. It’s practically a ghost town,” he said.
According to the BBC, among those killed were a number of the church elders. In addition, a local journalist also noted that residents were angry that a local army unit did not respond more quickly to the incident.
Militant Islamic groups linked to ISIS and al-Qaeda have been waging an increasingly violent war against followers of Jesus in the West African nation — this is the third attack on a church over the past five weeks.
Last month, six people were slaughtered at a church in the town of Silgadji.
The statistics speak for themselves: in 2016, there were just 12 jihadist attacks, in 2017 there were 33 and in 2018 it ramped up to some 158.
In response to the attack, the government condemned the “terrorist groups” who are “attacking religion in an evil plot to divide us.”
The attack came just days after two French soldiers were killed during an operation to rescue two hostages in the troubled nation. Among those freed was an American woman on holiday in a remote country park.
In response to the church killings, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres offered condolences and vowed to protect “the sanctity of all places of worship.”
Guterres urged the religious communities in Burkina Faso to “stand firmly with one another across communities and not to succumb to efforts to sow discord and breed further violence.”
Do pray for this war-torn nation, that those who are lifting high the name of Jesus would be protected from these evil groups.