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Church attack in Burkina Faso kills 15; suspected Islamist militants

At least 15 killed in a Catholic church attack in northeastern Burkina Faso by suspected Islamist militants, amidst a wider insurgency challenging the government and displacing millions in the Sahel.

In a tragic incident that underscores the escalating violence in Burkina Faso, at least 15 individuals lost their lives and two others sustained injuries during an assault on a Catholic church in the north-eastern region of the country.

The attack occurred amidst Sunday worship services in the village of Essakane, located in Oudalan province, near the Mali border. While specific details remain sparse, church officials suspect the assailants were Islamist militants, marking yet another act of violence attributed to such groups in the region.

The assault did not prompt an immediate comment from the authorities in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. However, Abbot Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, the head of the local diocese, released a statement confirming the death toll.

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According to Sawadogo, twelve individuals were killed on the spot, while three succumbed to their injuries at a hospital. He called upon the community to pray for the deceased, the recovery of the injured, and solace for those mourning the loss of loved ones.

This incident adds to a series of attacks that have been linked to Islamist militants in Burkina Faso. The country is grappling with an insurgency that has seen more than a third of its territory fall under insurgent control. The government’s efforts to combat Islamist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been met with significant challenges.

These groups have captured extensive areas, causing the displacement of millions across the Sahel region. Over the past three years, churches have emerged as specific targets, with numerous worshippers being killed in the violence.

Burkina Faso, currently under military rule, has recently withdrawn from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) alongside Mali and Niger, its Sahel neighbors. This decision was partly attributed to perceived insufficient support from ECOWAS in the battle against terrorism. All three countries, led by military juntas, had been suspended from the bloc, which has been advocating for a return to democratic governance.

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Earlier this month, Burkina Faso’s military-backed leader, Ibrahim Traoré, mentioned the potential deployment of Russian troops to assist in combating jihadist forces within the nation. This statement reflects the growing desperation and complex international dynamics as Burkina Faso seeks to navigate its way out of a protracted and deadly conflict that continues to devastate the West African country.



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