Date: May 17, 2019
Third Attack in 15 Days
Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Monday, May 13, 2019, gunmen in Burkina Faso killed four Christians during a Catholic parade. According to France 24, the procession was moving a statue of the Virgin Mary from one town to another. As they were moving through Ouahigouya town, the gunmen stopped the procession. The gunmen allowed the children to leave, but then executed four of the adults. This marked the third attack on Burkina Faso’s Christian community in a span of only 15 days.
The first reported attack took place on April 28 in the town of Silgadji. During this attack, six people, including the church’s pastor, were killed outside of their Assemblies of God Church. The second attack took place on May 12, in the town of Dablo. During this attack, 20 or more unknown gunmen killed six Catholics outside of their local church. A priest was also killed during this attack. The New York Times reported, “The mayor of Dablo said the attackers burned the church, looted a pharmacy and some others stores and left.”
Burkina Faso has been known as a country with large Muslim and Christian populations that live alongside each other peacefully. This has led some to believe that these attacks are being perpetrated by Islamic extremists from outside of the country to the north. Burkina Faso borders Mali, a country that has been riddled with terrorist activity for many years, including when Islamic extremists took control of the northern half of the country in 2011.
All three of these attacks took place in the northern part of the country. According to an expert at World Watch Monitor (WWM), these are not the only three attacks this year in the country, “There have been another five church leaders killed this year.” He also noted that Burkina Faso is becoming a “country of particular concern.”
In addition to these church attacks, there have been other attacks on Christian individuals. WWM reported that Pastor Elie Zoré of the Assemblies of God Church of Bouloutou, in the province of Soum, was killed on April 23, 2019. WWM also reported that Pastor Jean Sawadogo of the local church of Tasmakatt was killed while travelling between Tasmakatt and Gorom-Gorom on February 19, 2019. Finally, as reported by Aid to the Church in Need, Father Antonio Cesar Fernández was killed by extremists on February 15, 2019, as he was returning from Togo.
Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “These attacks, and particularly the increase in the number of attacks, are very concerning. This kind of violence is abnormal in Burkina Faso and has caught the country’s government off guard. Given previous attacks and events, it is likely that the attackers are Islamic terrorists from Mali. Steps must be taken to secure these borders and ensure that the Christian population of Burkina Faso is protected from further attacks.”
HOW TO PRAY: Pray for religiously motivated violence in Burkina Faso to cease. Pray for comfort for those who have lost loved ones in these attacks. Pray for peace in northern Africa.