Some fourteen people are dead after a group of Islamic militants launched a brutal gun attack on a church in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.
Gunmen reportedly burst into the church as congregants were celebrating mass, spraying them with bullets. A security source reportedly told AFP news agency that armed individuals carried out the attack, "executing the faithful including the pastor and children” along with several others.
The attack took place in the town of Hantoukoura, which is located near the border with Niger. Though the identity of the attackers has yet to be officially confirmed, in recent months, the region has been under siege from Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
In response to the massacre, Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore tweeted his condemnation of the “barbaric attack against the Protestant Church of Hantoukoura in the department of Foutouri, which left 14 dead and several wounded.”
"I offer my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” he added.
Over the past year or so, Burkina Faso’s Christian community has been crippled by brutal violence at the hands of Islamic terror groups. The number of attacks has jumped from just 33 in 2017 to 158 in 2018.
Earlier this year, four Christians were killed when militants burst into a church in the town of Toulfe, which is just 150 miles away from the nation’s capital of Ouagadougou. In the same month, an attack was launched on a Catholic Church in the town of Dablo – a pastor and five congregants were executed.
In September, persecution charity Aid to the Church in Need reported that many believers across the country are being issued terrifying ultimatums by militant Islamic groups – the towns of Hitté and Rounga have been all but emptied after terrorists effectively ordered the Christian population to either convert to Islam or flee.
“They are by no means the only ones facing this situation,” a local source said of the threats. “Rather they are just part of a program by the jihadists who are deliberately sowing terror, assassinating members of the Christian communities and forcing the remaining Christians to flee after warning them that they will return in three days’ time—and that they do not wish to find any Christians or catechumens still there.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Milenius