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Christians among 39 mining employees killed in latest spate of extremist attacks in Burkina Faso


Date:  November 19, 2019

A Barnabas contact reports that 15 Christians were among the 39 mining employees killed when extremists ambushed their convoy on 6 November in south-east Burkina Faso. Sixty were wounded in the attack.

The workers, employed by Canadian mining company SEMAFO, were being transported in a convoy of five buses escorted by a military vehicle. It is believed that an explosive device hit the military vehicle before militants opened fire on the convoy. Thirty-seven died at the scene and two more on their way to hospital. Many others are still unaccounted for and it is thought that the death toll may rise.

One of the vehicles sprayed with bullets in the jihadist's attack on the SEMAFO mining employee's convoy in south-east Burkina Faso

This is the latest in a spate of jihadi attacks, mainly aimed at Christians but also moderate Muslims and other targets. On 3 November, while returning from Ouagadougou, the Mayor of Djibo, Soum Province and three others were killed by militants. The Mayor was a key government leader who spoke out on behalf of the different communities, including Christians. He has received death threats because of this.

On 26 October, in Pobe-Mengao, also in Soum Province, northern Burkina Faso, extremist gunmen swooped on the town shooting dead at least four Christians. They kidnapped eleven more, who were all later found dead in a nearby village.

On 20 to 21 October, eight Christians were killed in Zoura, Bam Province, six in Bambatao and seven in Barsalogho, Sanmatenga Province, in militant attacks.

Heavily armed extremists pose a severe risk for Christians and others in targeted areas

At least 152 Christians have lost their lives to extremist violence so far this year. Thousands of Christians in the north of the country have been fleeing to Kaya, Sanmatenga Province, to escape the violence, but due to an increasing extremist presence, it is no longer a safe refuge.

In late September 2019, five separate murderous attacks targeted Christians, taking 41 lives, including an elderly Christian man and four of his sons causing thousands to flee area to Koungoussi, the capital of Bam Province. These attacks came after Islamist militants released a statement warning Christians to “flee, convert or die”.

Earlier in 2019, at least 56 Christians were murdered in a series of seven extremist attacks between April and June in northern Burkina Faso. On 28 April, a pastor, his son and four members of his congregation were shot one by one when they refused to convert to Islam.

The Barnabas contact said after the recent attack on the SEMAFO mining employees, “Living or dying is of very little importance now. The most important thing is keeping faith in the Lord.”

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