In a story underreported by many news organizations, six Christians attending church in the small nation of Burkina Faso were slaughtered by Islamic extremists on Sunday. This terrorist attack is the latest in the nation that has seen a recent uptick in religious violence directed at non-Muslims.
Located in West Africa, Burkina Faso borders Mali and Niger. With a constitution that protects religious freedom and a government willing to enforce it, the country has been praised for religious tolerance. However, the country of about 20 million citizens has seen violence against Christians rise over the last few years as Islamic extremists grow in number and boldness. According to most estimates, between 55-60 percent of the country are Muslim and 25 percent are Christian. Government spokesperson Remy Fulgance Dandjinou told Reuters that even as violence against Christians has grown, this past Sunday’s attack was the first on a church.
According to the Reuters report, an unidentified gunman killed six, including the church’s pastor. Providing context for the growing problem of terrorism in Burkina Faso, Reuters reveals: “The government declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces bordering Mali in December because of deadly Islamist attacks, including in Soum, the region where Sunday’s attack took place.”
The terrorism is coming out of Mali as Islamic extremists seek to extend their control over a larger area.
“Armed groups…have every interest in troubling or going against the good understanding between religions. We have observed this strategy in other countries in the region and in the world,” said Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa Project Director at International Crisis Group.
Sadly, like much of the rest of the world, the people of Burkina Faso will undoubtedly have to endure a continued rise in terrorist acts committed by Islamic extremists since few leaders in the West appear to have the stomach to deal with the problem.