At Least 15 Christians Killed in Attack on Church in Burkina Faso

Open Doors USA | Published: Feb 28, 2024
At Least 15 Christians Killed in Attack on Church in Burkina Faso

At Least 15 Christians Killed in Attack on Church in Burkina Faso

The February 25 attack during morning mass at a Catholic Church in Essakane village shows violence against Christians continues in this most dangerous region for followers of Jesus.

A statement shared with Open Doors by Abbot Jean-Pierre Sawadogo of the Diocese of Dori said 12 people were killed instantly, while three others died at the hospital. "In this painful circumstance, we invite you to pray for those who died in faith, for the healing of the wounded, and for the consolidation of grieving hearts," the statement reads.

While very little is known about the attack, news reports share that the gunmen opened fire on worshippers during the church service on Sunday. "A church official indicated the gunmen were suspected Islamist militants."

Essakane village in the Oudalam province, near Mali-Niger border. “In the Sahel, jihadist insurgency impacts primarily Mali, Burkina Faso and, to a lesser extent, Niger. The epicenter of the conflict is the tri-border area between the three countries, the Liptako-Gourma region. However, central Mali and northern Burkina Faso are now seeing some of the worst violence following the departure of French troops from both countries”, according to a DefenceWeb analysis of the growing insurgency in SSA.

At least 2 million Burkinabe, 1 in 10, have been internally displaced due to insecurity in the country, and at least 800,000 people are effectively live under a militant Islamist group siege.

Burkina Faso has been known for religious tolerance and social cohesion amongst people, however the growing Islamic insurgency threatens the peaceful coexistence of the Burkinabe. Christians have been disproportionately impacted by the growing insurgency in the north of the country, with churches and Christian communities singled out in attacks, while Muslims who do not side with the Islamic extremist groups have also suffered greatly”, explains Jo Newhouse, OD spokesperson for the work in SSA.

Open Doors started working in Burkina Faso in 2019 as jihadist violence increased radically. Our vision is to see the Church increasingly becoming able to respond biblically to persecution by spiritually empowering her members, and caring for the most affected through trainings (persecution awareness), relief efforts, and spiritual and trauma care.

Update from Field 27/02/202

Field partners were able to contact Abbot Jean-Pierre Sawadogo regarding the attack on Sunday 25 Feb. He shared the following: “In the morning at 8 o’clock, the Christians were gathered in chapel for the Sunday mass. Suddenly, some men arrived on motorcycles. They opened fire on the Christians in the chapel, only targeting the rank of men and shot them all. Thirteen died on the spot, two were seriously injured. They succumbed to their injuries once transported to the clinic. A little boy who was sitting by his dad's side was also killed. The only two men who survived were those sitting with the women because they are part of the choir. After their dirty job, the jihadists went back on their motorcycles, leaving the survivors in shock.”

A video received from a local contact shows blood covering the floor of the church, benches pushed to one side and the shoes of the believers heaped up.

Our local partners have shared this additional prayer request: “Please pray for the attackers, pray that they will meet Jesus and repent of these wicked attacks. May this incident not be in vain and pray that God will use it to grow and strengthen the Church in northern Burkina Faso.”

Prayer points:

  • Pray for the Church in Essakane village. May God's Spirit be their comforter. Pray that He will come close to those who mourn and are traumatised by this attack. 
  • Pray for church leadership - thay God will give them the wisdom in how to minister to the affected and lead in this difficult time. 
  • Pray for the faith of believers in northern Burkina Faso - that these things will only strengthen their trust in God and that they will not grow weary or feel overwhelmed by what is happening around them. 

To speak with an Open Doors US representative about this alarming incident, please contact Melany Ethridge at [email protected]. To view Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List report highlighting the dangers for followers of Jesus in the Mali/Niger/Burkino Faso region, visit https://www.opendoorsus.org/en-US/persecution/countries/.

About Open Doors US
Founded in 1955 by Brother Andrew—author of the international bestseller God’s Smuggler—Open Doors serves persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries, and is known for its annual World Watch List, the ranking of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution and discrimination for their faith. Open Doors US is one of 25 national Open Doors International (ODI) affiliates located around the world. Ryan Brown serves as Open Doors US president and CEO.

Image credit: ©Getty Images / Juanmonino



At Least 15 Christians Killed in Attack on Church in Burkina Faso