Burkina Faso: Dozens dead after church and mosque attacks amid growing insecurity

A “terrorist” attack on a mosque in eastern Burkina Faso killed dozens of Muslims on Sunday, while on the same day at least 15 people were killed and two others injured in another attack on a Catholic church during a mass in Burkina Faso.
Places of worship and religious leaders across Burkina Faso have been targeted in attacks blamed on rebels. The deadly attack on the church has been blamed on a jihadi group active in the region. Calling for peace and security in the West African nation, the vicar general of the Dori diocese, Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, denounced “those who continue to wreak death and desolation in our country.”

Essakane village, where the attack took place, is in what is known as the “three borders” zone in the north-east of the landlocked west African country, near the borders with Mali and Niger. Meanwhile, the mosque was reportedly attacked during a morning prayer, which resulted in scores of Muslim worshippers being killed.

Burkina Faso is part of the vast Sahel region, which has been locked in a battle against rising violent extremism since Libya’s civil war in 2011, followed by an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012. The jihadist insurgency spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger from 2015.

Burkina Faso’s military rulers have struggled to restore peace in violent areas since the first coup in January 2022. But the number of people killed by armed groups has nearly tripled compared with the 18 previous months, according to a report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. These are the latest in a series of atrocities blamed on jihadist and other armed groups active in the region, some of which have involved attacks on Christian churches while others have involved the abduction of clergy.