Christian Worshipers Gunned Down Leaving Church in Burkina Faso
At least five Christian worshipers were killed by gunmen yesterday while leaving church in Burkina Faso.
The attack occurred around noon local time in the small northern town of Silgadji, which is near the border of Mali and approximately 124 miles from Ouagadougou, the country’s capital.
According to a witness, the gunmen approached the Protestant church on seven motorbikes before unleashing their deadly fire.
“They fired in the air before aiming at the members of the congregation,” the witness told the AFP. “…just as the faithful were leaving the church at the end of the service.”
Among those killed in the violent raid was the church’s pastor, two of his sons and three other worshipers. According to reports, at least two people are also missing. The names of the victims, as well as the name of the church, have not been released.
No group has taken responsibility for Sunday’s mass shooting, and the total number of those involved is currently unknown. However, since 2015 jihadist violence has erupted in Burkina Faso, causing the once peaceful West African country to become violent and unstable.
Since 2015, the AFP estimates that 350 people have been killed. This was the first attack on a church after the eruption of violence. Jihadists have regularly targeted Muslim and Christian clerics in the north. More than half of the country is Muslim, and Christians comprise 30% of the population, most of whom are Catholics.
In February a Catholic priest, Father Cesar Fernandez was murdered in another violent incident by jihadists. He was 72 and had been in African since 1982. Another priest, Father Joel Yougbare, remains unaccounted for after being kidnapped at gunpoint in March.
Religious clerics are not the only victims of the violence. In an incident that appears to be separate from the church attack, five teachers were shot and killed Friday in eastern Burkina Faso when a school in the village of Maitaougou was attacked by jihadists.
(Photo credit: AHMED OUOBA/AFP/Getty Images)