Source: Fides/Vatican Media
A young priest, Father Siméon Yampa and five of his parishioners were shot dead during Mass yesterday in the town of Dablo, Burkina Faso.
The attack occurred between 9 and 10am, when about 20 armed men arrived on motorbikes, circled the church and then entered.
It appears their target was the 34-year old Fr Yampa, in charge of interreligious dialogue in his diocese. When he tried to escape, the terrorists chased and killed him. Returning to the church, they forced the faithful to lie on the ground, picked out five of them and shot them. They then burned down the church, looted a pharmacy and some stores.
A message from the Vatican stated: "The Holy Father has learned with sorrow about the news of the attack on the church in Dablo, Burkina Faso. He prays for the victims, for their families and for the entire Christian community in the country."
The funerals of the six victims are taking place today. Mgr Théophile Nare, Bishop of Kaya said in a statement: "Fr Siméon Yampa was a humble person, obedient and full of love, he loved his parishioners."
Fr Siméon Yampa was born on February 19, 1985. He was ordained on July 7, 2014 in Kaya.
No one has claimed responsibility but the attacks bore the hallmarks of Islamic extremists who are known to be active in the area.
Attacks against Christian communities are multiplying in Burkina Faso. On April 28, at the end of the celebration in Silgadji, in the province of Soum, a Protestant pastor was murdered along with five faithful.
In mid-February, a Spanish priest and four customs officers were killed in a jihadist attack in eastern Burkina Faso. There is still no news of Fr.Joël Yougbaré, parish priest of Djibo, who disappeared in the north of the country on Sunday 17 March.
A spokesman said the town is "filled with panic" and citizens are "holed up at home."
A government statement said that "terrorist groups are now attacking religion with the macabre aim of dividing us."
The attack in Dablo came two days after an operation by French forces released four hostages kidnapped in Burkina last week. Two French soldiers were killed in action.
Roughly 55% to 60% of Burkina Faso's population is Muslim, with up to a quarter Christian, mostly Catholic. The two groups generally live in peace, but the nation has been increasingly destabilized by jihadists from across the border in Mali. Attacks have included the kidnapping of foreigners.
A report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies has pointed out that the number of violent incidents in the West African country linked to the local affiliates of al Qaeda and ISIS rose from 24 in 2017 to 136 in 2018.
Over 100,000 people in Burkina Faso have been displaced by the unrest this year, the United Nations has said.
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