Gunmen attack Catholic church in Burkina Faso; 6 killed

Gunmen attack Catholic church in Burkina Faso; 6 killed

A group of gunmen broke into a Catholic church in Burkina Faso on Sunday morning during Mass and began shooting at the congregation, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported.

Jihadist violence has flared in Burkina Faso since 2016, and this is the third attack on a church in five weeks.

The mayor of the village, Ousmane Zongo, told Agence France-Presse the gunmen then burst into the church. They then set the church and nearby buildings on fire.

"There is an atmosphere of panic in the town". People are holed up at home. The shops and stores are closed. "It's practically a ghost town", he added.

Security sources told AFP that reinforcements were being sent from Barsalogho, some 45km to the south.

The landlocked country in northwest Africa has been beset by extremist violence in recent months as Islamist terror groups expand their reach.

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Fighters affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group as well as the local Ansarul Islam have been active in the region. It follows a similar attack on a Christian church last month.

Security and local reports confirmed that the April attack took place in Silgadji, 60 km from Djibo, the capital of Soum province in the north of the country.

Schools and teachers have also been targeted by the groups, who are opposed to Western education.

Burkina Faso attracted worldwide attention last week after two French soldiers died in an overnight military raid that freed four hostages, including an American woman. The two groups generally live in peace and frequently intermarry.

Burkina Faso is part of the vast Sahel region, which has turned into a hotbed of violent extremism and lawlessness since chaos engulfed Libya in 2011.

Despite worldwide efforts to create a transnational anti-jihadist military operation, named the G5 Sahel force, the situation is getting worse.

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