Burkina Faso: six dead in an attack on a Catholic church in the centre-north

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Six people, including a priest, were killed Sunday morning in an attack on a Catholic church in Dablo, a commune in Sanmatenga province in northern Burkina Faso, according to local and security sources.
“Around 9:00 a. m., during the mass, armed individuals broke into the Catholic Church. They started shooting as the faithful were trying to escape,” Dablo mayor Ousmane Zongo told AFP. The attackers “were able to immobilize some of the faithful. They killed five (people). The priest who was celebrating Mass was also killed, bringing the number of deaths to six.
According to a security source, the attack was carried out by a “group of armed men estimated at between twenty and thirty”.
“They burned down the church, then shops and a bush (small restaurant or bar) before going to the health centre where they searched the premises and set fire to the head nurse’s vehicle,” added Mr. Zongo. “In the city there is a climate of panic. People are holed up in their homes, no activity is functional. Shops and stores are closed. It’s practically a dead city.” “The alert was given around 10:00 am and reinforcements were deployed from Barsalogho”, a commune located 45 km south of Dablo, confirmed to AFP a secure source. The elements of the defence and security forces carry out sweeps.
This attack comes two days after the release of four hostages in northern Burkina Faso by French special forces.
Burkina Faso has faced increasingly frequent and deadly attacks over the past four years, attributed to jihadist groups, including Ansarul Islam, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS).
Initially concentrated in the North, these attacks then targeted the capital and other regions, particularly the East, and since 2015 have been carrying out nearly 400 jaws, according to an AFP count. Attacks regularly target religious leaders, mainly in the North. If Christian and Muslim prelates have already been targeted by jihadist attacks, this is the second attack, in two months, on a church since 2015, the date of the first attacks.
By the end of March, six people had been killed in the attack on the Protestant church in Silgadji, northern Burkina Faso.
In mid-March, Father Joël Yougbaré, priest of Djibo in the north of the country, was kidnapped by armed individuals.
On February 15, Father César Fernandez, a Salesian missionary of Spanish origin, was killed in an armed attack attributed to jihadists in Nohao, in the central east of the country.
Several imams have also been murdered by jihadists in the North. According to security sources, they were “considered not radical enough” by jihadists or “accused of collaborating with the authorities”.