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Terrorists kill at least 15 worshippers at Burkina church

Atrocity took place during Sunday mass in Essakane village and has been blamed on a jihadi group active in the region
This photograph shows displaced families, who fled Jihadists' attacks in northern and eastern Burkina Faso, in Gampela near Ouagadougou on Oct. 6, 2022.

This photograph shows displaced families, who fled Jihadists' attacks in northern and eastern Burkina Faso, in Gampela near Ouagadougou on Oct. 6, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 26, 2024 04:56 AM GMT
Updated: February 26, 2024 04:59 AM GMT

At least 15 civilians were killed and two others injured during a "terrorist" attack on a Catholic church during Sunday mass in northern Burkina Faso, a senior church official said.

"We bring to your attention a terrorist attack which the Catholic community of Essakane village was the victim of today, Feb. 25, while they were gathered for Sunday prayer," the vicar of the Dori diocese, Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, said in a statement sent to AFP.

The provisional toll was 15 killed and two wounded, he added.

Calling for peace and security in Burkina Faso, Sawadogo denounced "those who continue to wreak death and desolation in our country".

Essakane village, where the attack took place, is in what is known as the "three borders" zone in the northeast of the country, near the common borders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

This is just the latest in a series of atrocities blamed on jihadist groups active in the region, some of which have targeted Christian churches while others have involved the abduction of clergy.

Burkina Faso is part of the vast Sahel region, which has been locked in a battle against rising violent extremism since Libya's civil war in 2011, followed by an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012.

The jihadist insurgency spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger in 2015.

When Captain Ibrahim Traore seized power in 2022, it was the country's second coup in less than a year -- both triggered in part by discontent at the government's failures to quell the jihadist violence.

Around 20,000 people in Burkina Faso have been killed in that violence, while over two million have been displaced.

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