By Deborah Bunting — Originally published in CBNNews.Com
At least 10 gunmen stormed a Protestant church last Sunday in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, killing 14 people. The attack occurred during the church service when the worshippers were most vulnerable.
Agence France-Presse quotes a source saying that approximately 10 “heavily armed individuals” carried out the attack in the village near the border with Niger, “executing the faithful including the pastor and children.”
According to The Associated Press, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore condemned “the barbaric attack” on Twitter on Sunday, and offered his “deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded”.
Soldiers are pursuing the terrorists who escaped on scooters. Though the identity of the attackers is not yet known, security forces there told the AFP that the church is located in an area where places of worship have already suffered attacks by Islamists, and since February the number of attacks against Christian targets has accelerated.
Burkina Faso’s population is around two-thirds Muslim and one-third Christian, but according to the AP, the two religions have co-existed peaceably there over the years. In 2015 all that began to change with a rise in Islamic extremism that destroyed the peace and frequently led to attacks on Christians.
Last May CBN News reported that five Christians, including their pastor, were murdered by Islamic terrorists in another church in Burkina Faso.
Then in June, at least 19 Christians were killed in an attack on the village of Arbinda in the northern part of Burkina Faso.
According to Barnabas Fund sources, the number of those killed may be as high as 29 as 10 more people were reportedly murdered in the nearby Namentenga province the next day.
“There is no Christian anymore in this town (Arbinda),” said a Barnabas Fund source. He added that 19 people were killed and that the entire population of Christians had fled for their safety.
“It’s proven that they were looking for Christians,” the source continued. “Families who hide Christians are killed. Arbinda had now lost in a total of no less than 100 people within six months.”
CBN News also reported later in June four more Christians were murdered by Islamists in the village of Bani for wearing crucifixes.
Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré of the Diocese of Dori in the northeast of Burkina Faso described what happened to the aid organization Aid To The Church In Need.
“It happened in the neighbouring Diocese of Ouahigouya,” the bishop recounted, “when the residents of the village of Bani were gathered together. The Islamists arrived and forced everybody to lie face down on the ground. Then they searched them. Four people were wearing crucifixes. So they killed them because they were Christians. After murdering them, the Islamists warned all the other villagers that if they did not convert to Islam they, too, would be killed.”
Bishop Dabiré went on to say it has become so dangerous for believers in Burkina Faso that “If the world continues to do nothing, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence in this area and quite possibly, in future, from the entire country.”
After that slaughter in August, Dabiré appealed to the international community to defend Christian communities in Burkina Faso and to stop the flow of weapons to the Islamic militants from the outside. Now with 14 more people murdered for being Christians, his plea is even more urgent.
“The weapons they are using were not made here in Africa,” Dabiré noted. “They have rifles, machine guns and so much ammunition, more than the Burkina Faso army has at its disposal. When they come to the villages they shoot for hours. Who is supplying them with these resources? If they were not getting this support from outside, they would have to stop. That’s why I’m appealing to the international authorities. Whoever has the power to do so, may they put a stop to all this violence!”