Mass Shooting Claims Six Lives at Catholic Church in Burkina Faso

Photo credits: Cordelia Persen/Flickr

A religiously motivated mass shooting occurred at a Catholic church in West Africa’s nation of Burkina Faso.

The BBC reported Sunday (May 12) that a group of armed attackers ambushed a church in Burkina Faso’s northern city of Dablo. Dablo is located about 200 miles outside Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou. There was reportedly between 20 to 30 gunmen in the unit that carried out this shooting, which began during Mass around 9:00 a.m. local time. Five worshipers and a Catholic priest were killed.

When this grisly assault in Dablo was over, the assailants who carried it out burned down the church where six people died. Ousmane Zongo, Dablo’s mayor, spoke with a media agency after this tragic incident and described the chaos that ensued. Zongo told AFP that in addition to the church shooting, other nearby buildings were torched and a health care facility was looted.

“Armed individuals burst into the Catholic church. They started firing as the congregation tried to flee. There is an atmosphere of panic in the town. People are holed up in their homes, nothing is going on. The shops and stores are closed. It’s practically a ghost town,” Zongo said.

Security officials in the area also told AFP that additional forces were dispatched from the nearby city of Barsalogho, which is 30 miles south of Dablo. A reporter from the area told the BBC that church elders were among the dead in this attack’s aftermath. The Dablo-based reporter also said that local residents were angry with the municipal security apparatus over its failure to respond.

Law enforcement personnel members, media agencies, and political officials have echoed their suspicions about who is responsible for the bloodshed. Radical Muslim militias, such as Islamic State, Africa-based Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, and a local organization called Ansarul Islam have been blamed for the violence. Burkina Faso is a hot bed for murderous activity, which has occurred as of late.

In April 2019, at least six people were killed in a mass shooting that occurred at a Protestant church in Silgadji, Burkina Faso. Also in that month, four people died in another attack on a Catholic church in Dori, Burkina Faso.

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, acts of violence blamed on radical Islamists increased by more than tenfold from 2016 to 2018.