14 killed in Burkina Faso church attack

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) – Fourteen people were killed in an attack last Sunday on a church in eastern Burkina Faso where places of worship have suffered a string of assaults this year, the regional government said.

“Unidentified armed men” carried out the attack during a Sunday service at a Protestant church in the town of Hantoukoura near the border with Niger, the government statement said.

“This attack unfortunately left 14 dead and many wounded,” it said.

Soldiers in the region were hunting down the assailants, who fled on scooters, a security source said earlier.

The poor West African country has suffered a series of attacks on Christian targets since February, leaving 21 dead before the attack.

Burkina Faso’s population is around two-thirds Muslim and one-third Christian. More than 700 people have been killed in extremist unrest since fighting spilled across the border from Mali, according to an AFP count.

An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in eastern Burkina Faso earlier this month killed 37 people, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of extremist violence.

Attacks in Burkina Faso, which borders Mali and Niger, began in the north but spread to the east and the west of the country in 2018, while the capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times.

Most of the violence is attributed to groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group, with around 500,000 people internally displaced by attacks, according to the United Nations.