Dozens dead after mosque attack in southern Burkina Faso, sources say

Places of worship and religious leaders across Burkina Faso have been targeted in attacks blamed on rebels.

Published On 26 Feb 202426 Feb 2024

An attack on a mosque in eastern Burkina Faso killed dozens of Muslims on the same day as another deadly attack on Catholics attending mass, local and security sources have told the AFP news agency.

“Armed individuals attacked a mosque in Natiaboani on Sunday around 5am, resulting in several dozen being killed,” a security source told the AFP on Monday.

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“The victims were all Muslims, most of them men” who had come for morning prayers, a local resident said by telephone.

Another local source said, “The terrorists entered the town early morning. They surrounded the mosque and shot at the faithful, who were gathered there for the first prayer of the day. Several of them were shot, including an important religious leader.”

Soldiers and members of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP), a civilian force that supports the military, were also targeted “by these hordes who came in large numbers”, the source said.

The source described it as a “large-scale attack” in terms of the number of assailants, who also wreaked substantial damage. The authorities are yet to comment on the attack.

Natiaboani is a rural community about 60km (37 miles) south of Fada N’Gourma, the main town in Burkina’s eastern region, which has seen regular attacks by armed groups since 2018. It is close to the border with Benin and Togo.

On the same day as the attack on the mosque, at least 15 civilians were killed and two others injured in an attack on a Catholic church during Sunday mass in northern Burkina Faso, a senior church official said.

Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, vicar of the Dori diocese, said in a statement that the “terrorist attack” took place in the village of Essakane while people were gathered for Sunday prayer.

Essakane village is in what is known as the “three borders” zone in the northeast of the country, near the common borders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), about 20,000 people in Burkina Faso have been killed in the violence that spilled over from Mali where it began in 2012. The United Nations says more than two million people have been displaced.

Several military detachments also came under attack on Sunday in different parts of the east and north of Burkina Faso. According to security sources, several hundred “terrorists” were “neutralised” in operations responding to the attacks.

Places of worship and religious leaders have in the past been the target of attacks blamed on rebels.

In March 2019, a priest in Djibo was kidnapped and is still missing. In February 2018, a Catholic missionary, Cesar Fernandez, was murdered in the centre of the country.

In August 2021, the grand imam of the northern town of Djibo was found dead three days after armed men stopped the bus he was travelling on and kidnapped him.

Source: News Agencies