At Least 15 Killed in Church Attack in Burkina Faso

( – A Catholic church fell under attack in Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa, in the lastest of numerous suspected Islamic extremist strikes. Authorities have been fighting to remain in power throughout the country, where groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State currently control over one-third of the territory. The recent assault killed at least 15 people.

The tragedy occurred during a worship service on February 25, when gunmen opened fire on the church. It happened in Oudalan province, in the village of Essakane, which is close to the Mali border. Twelve parishioners died during the onslaught, and at least three others succumbed to their injuries at the hospital. Another two were injured.

The Vatican writes that church officials invited members to pray for the individuals “who died in faith” and asked for the healing of those who suffered physical and/or emotional injuries. They also asked believers to join them in praying that the people responsible for the destruction would experience spiritual conversion and end their hateful, murderous ways.

The Department of Defense states that the entire Sahel region, a chain of countries that stretches across the southernmost parts of West Africa, has become a hotspot for Islamic extremism.

Even worse, Russian leaders have been working to convince locals that Western influence will only worsen their situation. They insist that the Kremlin’s private contractors are the better choice for powerful outside defense. The Wagner group has already begun to establish itself in Burkina Faso, which recently joined a growing anti-colonialist movement that led to the ousting of French forces throughout the region. Its ideology threatens other Western alliances, as well, and could spread to neighboring countries in the Sahel region and beyond.

West Africa has seen heavy violence related to Islamic extremism, according to PBS, which reports that the region suffered more than 1,800 attacks during the first six months of 2023, leading to 4,600 deaths. Burkina Faso and Mali suffered the brunt of those losses.

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