Gunmen killed four worshippers and a pastor in the first jihadist attack on a church in Burkina Faso, security and local sources said yesterday, in the latest violence to rock the formerly peaceful west African nation.
Sunday’s raid took place in the small northern town of Silgadji near Djibo, the capital of Soum province.
“Unidentified armed individuals have attacked the Protestant church in Silgadji, killing four members of the congregation and the main pastor,” a security source told AFP.
“At least two other people are missing,” the source added.
It was the first attack on a church since jihadist violence erupted in Burkina Faso in 2015. Former colonial ruler France has deployed some 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help local forces try to flush out jihadist groups.
“The attack happened around 1:00 pm, just as the faithful were leaving the church at the end of the service,” a member of the church who did not want to be identified told AFP.
“The attackers were on motorbikes. They fired in the air before aiming at the members of the congregation,” the witness added. Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.