AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Appeal to national unity after the massacre of the military; the Bishops denounce the attempt to trigger an inter-religious conflict

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 terrorism   persecutions   bishops  

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - Instability is worsening in Burkina Faso, where on August 19, 24 soldiers died, 7 others were injured while 5 of their comrades were reported missing during a jihadist attack.
The assault occurred in the early hours of the day in Koutougou, in the north of the Country. "The people of Burkina Faso have always remained firm in the long-lasting struggle against terrorism", said President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré who reiterated that "Burkina Faso will never give up any part of its territory, at the cost of our lives" .
At the beginning of August the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger, His Exc. Mgr. Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré, Bishop of Dori, had denounced the massacres of Christians carried out by jihadist groups supported from abroad who, he said, "are better armed and equipped" than the national army.
"If the world continues to do nothing, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence", said the President of the Bishops’ Conference.
The jihadist groups, according to Mgr. Dabiré, pursue a precise strategy to put greater areas of the Country under their control, or at least destabilize them. "They have settled within our country little by little, attacking the army, civil structures and the population. Now, their main target seems to be Christians. I believe they are trying to trigger an inter-religious conflict", said Mgr. Dabiré.
"Insecurity continues to increase and has forced us to reduce our pastoral activities. Now it is too dangerous to travel to certain areas and I have been forced to close two parishes", the President of the Bishops’ Conference denounces.
The Catholic Church represents one fifth of the 16.5 million inhabitants of Burkina Faso, whose government signed an agreement with the Vatican on 12 July, guaranteeing the legal status of the Church and committing itself to "collaborating for moral, spiritual and material well-being of the human person and for the promotion of the common good".
Christian places of worship, especially in the north of the Country, mainly inhabited by Muslims, were the target of jihadist groups after throwing out President Blaise Compaore in October 2014.
In June, the Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger denounced that their Countries "have for years been in the grip of terrorism" (see Fides, 19/6/2019). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/8/2019)