Six Killed in Attack on Catholic Church in Burkina Faso

Second attack on a Catholic church in Burkina Faso this year

Burkina Faso state media reported the killing of six people by unknown gunmen in Dablo when the perpetrators barged their way into Sunday Mass in a Catholic church on May 12. The perpetrators also burned the church in the northern town. The attackers began shooting around nine in the morning local time. According to eyewitnesses, about 20 to 30 individuals took part in the slaughter. Police are yet to identify the gunmen. They came riding motorcycles and shot dead the church priest, Father Simeon Yampa. The gunmen not only set fire to the church but also a nearby health center and some shops.

Ousmane Zongo, the Mayor of Dablo, said his townspeople were “filled with panic.” He said citizens had locked themselves up at home. For Burkina Faso citizens, this is not the first terrorist attack. Several attacks have plagued this landlocked African nation. All of them were carried out by Islamist jihadist groups. Many of them affiliated with al-Qaeda. Burkina Faso government authorities also reported five teachers being shot to death in a separate incident. The government subsequently declared an emergency in many northern provinces due to these horrifying Islamist attacks. The area of the state of emergency includes the place where the May 12 assault took place.

The May 12 attack was the second attack on a Catholic church in Burkina Faso this year. The month of April witnessed four deaths when terrorists attacked a church not far from Dablo. Other than Catholic churches, Protestant places of worship were also attacked last month. Six people, including the priest, was shot down. Last week two French soldiers succumbed to their injuries after rescuing two Frenchmen, a South Korean and an American who had been kidnapped and held in that region. There has been an increase in violent incidents linked to local ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates. As per a report published by Africa Center for Strategic Studies, instances of violent incidents went up from 24 people being killed in 2017 to 136 in 2018.

In 2018, it was announced by the Trump administration that it would slash the American troops currently stationed in Africa by about 10 percent. Defense experts point out such a reduction would take a toll on the number of American counter-terrorism forces and their enablers. The strength of these forces will decrease by 25 percent.

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