BURKINA FASO - In the second major incident in two weeks in the West African country of Burkina Faso, six people have been killed in an ambush of a Catholic Church. All six, including the priest saying Mass, were shot to death and the church, set on fire by the attackers, was burnt to the ground.
Just two weeks ago on 29 April 2019, a similar attack took place on a Christian church in the village of Silgadji, in the north of Burkina Faso. Six people were killed in that attack as well, including the church's pastor.
The latest attack, also in the north of the country, took place in the town of Dablo, in a region that has been plagued with severe violence for many months. A health centre near to the church was also torched in the attack, along with a number of other buildings including a restaurant. Twenty to 30 armed men are believed tlo have taken part in the attack..
"I urge all citizens of Burkina Faso to stand firmly with one another across communities and not to succumb to efforts to sow discord and breed further violence," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday.
Maria Espinosa, President of the General Assembly, said in a tweet: "We cannot tolerate hatred. The fundamental right of religious freedom must be respected everywhere."
Metsi Makhetha, the UN Resident Coordinator in Burkina Faso, also tweeted her response to the shootings in Dablo, condemning the "heinous attacks" and offering her condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.
The shootings came just days after warnings from top United Nations officials, including Ms. Makhetha, of an "unprecedented" rise in "sophisticated armed attacks in the Sahel", which are putting the future of a "whole generation" at stake.
Violence is spreading in Mali and Niger, as well as Burkina Faso, and risks spilling over into other West African countries. This has led to a five-fold rise in the displacement of the local population in the last 12 months, who have seen more than 330,000 people leave their homes, in addition to 100,000 refugees.
According to Ms. Makhetha, "ISIS-inspired" armed groups, threaten to destabilize longstanding traditional methods of community-based conflict resolution.