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Worshippers pray during Sunday Mass at the cathedral in Kaya, Burkina Faso, in 2019 (OSV News /Anne Mimault, Reuters)

The majority of Christians in Burkina Faso are now shying away from Sunday services and instead praying at home after a series of deadly attacks by Islamist militants targeted churches and killed scores of worshippers. Source: NCR Online.

The latest attack by insurgents on a Catholic church in the northeastern part of the country on February 25 left at least 15 people dead. Local church officials said gunmen on motorcycles, suspected to be Islamist militants, raided the church during Sunday worship in Essakane village, close to the border with Mali, indiscriminately shooting at worshippers, including children sitting on their parents’ laps.

“People are devastated and are … avoiding Sunday Mass for fear of further attacks,” said Fr Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, vicar general of the Diocese of Dori, where the attack took place.

“The Church is under attack, and we ask for your prayers during this difficult time and prayers for those who died and were wounded during the recent attack,” he said News.

Fr Sawadogo noted that most Christians in his diocese are “shaken” by the recent terrorist attack on a Catholic church. “It’s a sad situation, and it’s going to affect our pastoral activities as people continue to stay away from places of worship,” he said.

The West African nation of 21 million people has experienced civil war between the government and Islamist rebels since 2015. The recent report by Human Rights Watch underlined that non-state armed groups control up to 50 per cent of the country’s territory, and the conflict has led to the death of thousands of people and displaced over 2 million people.

Since 2021, jihadists have increasingly targeted Christians in villages, churches and workplaces. Islamist militants have also destroyed churches and warned Christians not to worship publicly. In 2024, Open Doors ranked Burkina Faso as the 20th worst country to live in as a Christian. The country is 25 per cent Christian and 60 per cent Muslim.


Life-threatening concerns keep Burkina Faso Catholics from Sunday Mass (By Tony Onyuolo, OSV News via NCR Online