A series of deadly militant attacks targeting Christians in the northeast part of Burkina Faso, a once peaceful West African country, has rocked the Christian community.
Earlier this month, the president of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger, Bishop Laurent Dabiré, told Aid to the Church in Need that Christians are in danger of “elimination” from the country due to the ongoing attacks against their community by Islamic extremists.
His warning comes as Islamic extremist violence across the Sahel region of West Africa has been rising since 2016.
Dabiré detailed a June 27 attack that occurred in the northern Diocese of Ouahigouya, which, according to the papal charity, was the fifth attack against Christians in northeast Burkina Faso since the beginning of 2019.
The June 27 attack happened in the village of Bani during a time when the village’s residents were gathered together.
“The Islamists arrived and forced everybody to lie face down on the ground,” the bishop said. “Then they searched them. Four people were wearing crucifixes. So they killed them because they were Christians.”
Dabiré said that after murdering the Christians who were wearing crucifixes, the extremists told other villagers that they would also be killed if they did not convert to Islam.
According to Aid to the Church in Need, at least 20 Christians have been killed in the five attacks carried out this year targeting Christian communities. Other attacks have occurred in the Dioceses of Dori and Kaya.
In addition to attacks in Burkina Faso, the extremist groups have also carried out massacres in countries like Mali and Niger as over 4 million people have been forced to flee from their homes in recent years.
“At first, they were only active in the frontier region between Mali and Niger,” Dabiré said. “But slowly they have moved into the interior of the country, attacking the army, civil structures, and the people. Today their main target appears to be the Christians and I believe they are trying to trigger an interreligious conflict.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith