Dozens killed in church attack in Burkina Faso

Published 18 February 2020  |  
(Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago)
Soldiers from Burkina Faso in the Sahel area in March.

A pastor is among the dozens to have been killed during an attack on a church in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday.

Gunmen killed 24 people and wounded 18 when they stormed a Protestant church in the village of Pansi, in Yagha province, during the weekly Sunday service.

Regional governor Col Salfo Kaboré told the AFP news agency that "armed terrorists attacked the peaceful local population after having identified them and separated them from non-residents".

"The provisional toll is 24 killed, including the pastor ... 18 wounded and individuals who were kidnapped," Kaboré added.

Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, has condemned the attack.

"I am profoundly sad that people who are gathered to worship suffer from such a senseless act of hate," he said.

"These acts of violence are attacks on our one human family and we must continue to work together for justice and peace."

Christians are being increasingly targeted by Islamist militants in an insurgency that has killed hundreds of civilians.

In a recent Human Rights Watch report, witnesses in the country said that attackers are seeking to justify the killings by linking victims to the government, the West or Christian beliefs.

It has called the violence against Christians and other civilians "war crimes" and is calling on the government to scale up its efforts to end the bloodshed.

"Armed Islamist groups in Burkina Faso have attacked civilians with unmitigated cruelty and utter disregard for human life," said Corinne Dufka, HRW's West Africa director.

"Deliberately targeting farmers, worshippers, mine workers, displaced people and traders are war crimes."

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