August 14, eight people were killed in Mali during two separate attacks, seven at the UN mission in the ancient city of Timbuktu and one in Douenza, 130 miles to the south.
Militants who shot and killed 18 people at a restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital the same day most likely came from Mali, a security source in Ouagadougou told the AFP news source on Wednesday. “Looking at the tactics of the assailants, their physical traits, they probably came from northern Mali or closer to the border” with Burkina Faso, an army officer said on condition of anonymity. No group has so far claimed responsibility, but Burkina Faso has witnessed a string of such attacks.
On Tuesday, Mali called on the international community to provide military equipment and financial aid to help in forming a new joint force being set up by five countries 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. region, a strip of African countries stretching from the Atlantic Ocean eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, parts of Mali, Burkina Faso and on into Sudan. Mali’s ambassador to the United Nations, Issa Konfourou, said the recent attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso underscored the urgency of setting up the force. Speaking at a UN Security Council debate on security in Africa, France’s deputy permanent representative to the UN Anne Gueguen stressed the need for an “urgent response” to armed jihadist groups destabilizing 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. region.
Mali fills the 32nd position on Open Doors 2017 World Watch List. The biggest source of persecution for the just over 500 thousand Christians there is Islamic oppression. With the increase in Islamic activities, there is also an increase in hostility to Christians, leaving them very little space to live out their lives. No churches can be built and preaching the gospel is dangerous.
Many northern Christians have opted to move either south to Bamako or to villages in the central parts of the country. The fact that they are living as displaced people in their own country is very discouraging to them. The few who have remained in the northern areas like Timbuktu and Gao are very isolated and have no access to much needed relief aid. They are facing immense hardship and are in dire need of encouragement. Churches expressed concern over Christians giving in under the constant pressure, embracing Islam.
Pray also for God’s sustaining grace to missionaries kidnapped in the region, probably held in Mali:
Beatrice Stockly (Swiss) taken from Timbuktu in Jan 2016
Ken Elliot (Australian) taken from Burkina Faso in Jan 2016
Jeff Woodke taken from Niger in Oct 2016
Gloria Argoti, taken from Mali in Feb 2017
Father, we lift before You today the cry of Your people in Mali and Burkina Faso as they mourn the loss of loved ones and as they struggle to know how to live in the midst of the hostility and violence against them. Give them eyes to see Your presence in their difficult circumstances; strengthen and uphold them as they daily face the dangers before them. Grant wisdom and courage, Lord, to the church leaders in Mali that they might lead the people in godly ways to understand this persecution and equip them to respond in biblical ways. You are a God of means and we pray for the resources they need to empower believers both spiritually and physically. We pray that You will protect the hearts of the children from despair and bitterness, that they might truly know You, that they might grow in the knowledge of Your Word and stand firm in their faith, no matter the circumstances. In the name of Jesus, the rock on whom we stand. Amen.