AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - At least 15 dead in Catholic church attack

Monday, 26 February 2024 persecutions   jihadists   local churches  

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - The small remaining community of Catholic faithful who had gathered for Sunday prayers under the leadership of a catechist were gathered yesterday, Sunday, February 25, in Essakane, a village 45 km from Dori, in the Sahel region in north-eastern Burkina Faso, victim of a jihadist attack. The village of Essakane is located in the so-called "three borders" area, on the border between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, a stronghold of jihadist groups. The Bishop of Dori, Laurent Dabiré, confirmed to Fides: "The attack took place on Sunday, February 25, at around 8:30 a.m. The jihadists broke into the chapel where Sunday prayers were taking place under the direction of a catechist. In fact, since 2018, the majority of the faithful were forced to flee due to the violence of jihadist groups. Only a few people remain who, in the absence of a permanent priest, gather on Sundays for a communal prayer led by a catechist. "The jihadists shot at the men and spared the women," reports Bishop Dabiré, "twelve died on the spot, three more succumbed to their injuries in the local clinic. Two others were injured". The statement, signed by Fr. Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, vicar-general of Dori, calls on the faithful "to pray, in these painful circumstances, for the eternal repose of those who have died in the faith, for the healing of the wounded and for the consolation of those who mourn". "Let us pray for the conversion of those who continue to sow death in our land," the statement continued, "May our efforts of penance and prayer in this blessed Lent bring us peace and security for Burkina Faso." Also on Sunday, February 25, dozens of Muslim worshipers were killed in an attack on a mosque in Natiaboani, eastern Burkina Faso, according to the AFP news agency. "Gunmen attacked a mosque in Natiaboani around 5 a.m. on Sunday, killing several dozen people," a security source said. "The victims are all Muslims, mostly men, who had gathered in the mosque to pray," said a witness at the scene. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 26/2/2024)