They had just gathered to share stories and the happenings of the day—like West African communities often do in the evenings–when strangers entered their village in northern Burkina Faso. Before the group left, they had killed four believers and had set fire to the shop of one of the Christians they executed.
Our field is reporting that on Thursday, June 27, unidentified armed individuals entered the village of Bani (about six miles from the town of Bourzanga), looking for Christians. According to testimonies gathered from survivors, the militants told everyone to lie down and proceeded to look for Christians by asking for first names or looking for anyone wearing Christian insignia (like crosses).
The deadly search yielded four men: David Zoungrana, his younger brother Philippe, Theophile Ouedraogo and Ernest Kassoaga. They were all wearing crosses. Contacts on the ground tell us that when they saw crosses, the assailants singled them out. All four were taken aside and executed.
At this stage, we don’t know their ages or anything about the families David, Philippe, Theophile and Ernest left behind. Just that they followed Jesus—and their faith was part of them. They weren’t afraid to make a public statement of their belief in an area known internationally for its display of seven adobe mosques–six of which are built at the top of Bani’s main hill.
Before the terrorists left the village, they torched the shop that belonged to Zoungrana. Then they moved on to another village, Pougrenoma, also in the Bourzanga region. There, they warned residents against calling in any government officials or military forces, indicating they would return. They also told Christians to convert or risk execution.
New Burkina Faso attack brings death toll to 27
The details of the latest attack are eerily similar to the onslaught of killings targeting Christians and churches in Burkina Faso this year. These latest murders bring the death toll of Christians killed in attacks since February to 27. In several attacks, including this one, the armed terrorists challenged Christians to convert or die.
Since February, extremist attacks on Christians and churches in Burkina Faso include:
- The February 15 murder of a 72-year-old priest on the border at Nohao. He and two other priests walked into a jihadist attack at the post as they traveled from Togo.
- The February 19 murder of a 54-year-old pastor on the road between Tasmakatt and Gorom-Gorom. Pastor Jean Sawadogo was killed on his way traveling to Gorom-Gorom. He left a widow and seven children.
- The April 23 murder of a pastor near the main town of Arbinda in the Semiarid region of Western and North-Central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to Sudan. It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south..
- The April 28 murder of six people at a church in the small town of Silgadji near Djibo in northern Burkina Faso. Suspected Islamic militants arrived on seven motorcycles around midday, towards the end of the service, and killed the 80-year-old pastor, his son, brother-in-law, a primary school teacher and two others. They were told to convert and when they refused, they were executed one by one. Pastor Pierre Ouedraogo left behind his wife and six other children.
- The May 12 killing of six people, including a priest, by gunmen who stormed a church in Dablo in northern Burkina Faso during worship. They burned down the church, shops, health center and other community buildings.
- The May 13 execution of four believers in Singa, in the municipality of Zimtenga in the central north. The church members were bringing a statue of Mary back to their parish in Zimtenga when they were intercepted. The attackers let the children go before executing the four adults.
- The May 26 murder of four worshipers during a church worship service in Toulfe. According to news agency Fides, eight heavily armed individuals arrived in the village around 9 a.m. on four motorcycles. They entered the church and shot dead three people. A fourth Christian died later as a result of wounds. An unknown number of people were injured. The attack came just as Open Doors workers returned from Burkina Faso with a call to urgent prayer for believers there.
Our field has asked us to pray for God’s abundant grace to all who have been affected by this new attack as well as the previous ones. Pray for healing from the emotional trauma and for His provision in all of our brothers’ and sisters’ needs. Pray that the government would to be able to secure the entire region of northern Burkina Faso. Pray also for wisdom, courage and hope for the body of Christ as they face this continued jihadist threat.
top photo: representative image used for security reasons