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.

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso

Islamic extremists continue to target and murder Christians in northeastern Burkina Faso.

Aid to the Church in Need reports in the latest attack on June 27, four Christians in the village of Bani were killed by Islamic militants for wearing crucifixes. When the attackers saw they were wearing crosses, the four men were singled out and executed.

Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré of the Diocese of Dori in the northeast of Burkina Faso spoke to the aid organization about the dire situation Christians are facing in the West African country.

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“It happened in the neighboring Diocese of Ouahigouya, the bishop recounted, “when the residents of the village of Bani were gathered together, the Islamists arrived and forced everybody to lie face down on the ground. Then they searched them. Four people were wearing crucifixes. So they killed them because they were Christians. After murdering them, the Islamists warned all the other villagers that if they did not convert to Islam they, too, would be killed.”

It was the fifth attack against Christians this year in that area of Burkina Faso. So far in 2019, at least 20 Christians have been killed by Islamic extremists.

It has become so dangerous for believers there that Bishop Dabiré said, “If the world continues to do nothing, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence in this area and quite possibly, in future, from the entire country.”

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Dabiré’s prediction comes as violence directed against Christians by Islamic militants in West Africa has been steadily rising over the last three years. 

The bishop is appealing to the international community to defend Christian communities in Burkina Faso and stop the jihadists from receiving help from outside the country.

“The weapons they are using were not made here in Africa,” Dabiré noted. “They have rifles, machine guns and so much ammunition, more than the Burkina Faso army has at its disposal. When they come to the villages they shoot for hours. Who is supplying them with these resources? If they were not getting this support from outside, they would have to stop. That’s why I’m appealing to the international authorities. Whoever has the power to do so, may they put a stop to all this violence!”

More than 60 percent of the population of the West African country are Muslims. More than 20 percent of the population identifies as Christian.

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The bishop also warned of young Muslims joining extremist groups. 

“They include youths who have joined the jihadists because they have no money, no work, and no prospects, but there are also radicalized elements who are involved in these movements which they see as the expression of their Islamic faith,” he explained.

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