At least 6 killed in church shooting Burkina Faso

At least 6 killed in church shooting Burkina Faso
© The Hill staff

Gunmen killed at least six people, including a priest, at a Catholic church in Burkina Faso on Sunday, according to multiple news outlets.

The attack in northern Burkina Faso is the second such incident against Christians within two weeks in the country, which is struggling with an influx of Islamic militants.

Authorities said congregants were leaving the church around 9 a.m. local time in the town of Dablo, about 120 miles from the capital, Ouagadougou, when roughly 20 men circled them and opened fire.

“These terrorist groups are now attacking religion with the macabre aim of dividing us,” according to a statement from the government.

The mayor of Dablo told Reuters that the attackers then burned the church and looted a pharmacy and some others stores before leaving the area.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the nation has struggled with a rise in violence from jihadists, including abductions and killings, in the past several months.

The State Department in April included Burkina Faso on a list of 35 countries where Americans are at risk of kidnapping and hostage-taking

Days before the latest shooting, a raid led by French armed forces rescued four hostages -  including an American, two French citizens and a South Korean – but two French soldiers died in the overnight raid.

In another attack on Friday, five teachers were fatally shot.

A gunmen also shot and killed a pastor and five congregants in April at a Protestant church in the same region of Burkina Faso.

The West Africa nation, which shares a border with the volatile Mali, has historically had a tolerance for all manner of religious groups.

But Burkina Faso’s government in December declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces bordering Mali due to the deadly Islamist attacks.