An entire Christian population of a Burkina Faso village were forced to flee their homes after terrorists brutally killed two Catholic prisoners in a church in the community.
In early October 2023, two young men from the village of Débé traveled to the nearby city of Tougan. Their journey violated travel restrictions, and a blockade was imposed on the residents of the area by controlling radical groups. The terrorists arrested the traveling men, who were Catholic, and held them captive.
Two weeks later, the terrorists returned to Débé with their Christian prisoners. Instead of freeing the two young men, the terrorists forced their way inside a Catholic church, where they killed them on the altar. The attackers then gave all Christians in the village 72 hours to flee. Members of the Catholic Church, Assemblies of God, and other denominations escaped to safety in nearby cities, leaving behind their homes and livelihoods, Christian Headlines reports.
Extremist terrorist groups have gained control of Burkina Faso in recent years, particularly in the northern areas, and the number of those affected by violence and displacement continues to rise. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over two million people in the country have been displaced due to internal conflicts and violence. Although the displacement and attacks are not limited to Christians, pastors, and church members are regularly targeted, and the Débé attack is one of many recent examples of the increasing violence in Burkina Faso motivated by religion.
In February 2023, a terrorist group entered Pastor Owasu’s* village and declared they no longer wanted him to hold church services on Sundays. They also said men and women should not sit in the same room, and all women should cover their faces.
“This led me to change our Sunday and evening meetings program times,” Pastor Owasu told Global Christian Relief. “We started to do our services and prayers very quietly, not singing, praying or preaching loudly.”
Three months after the intrusion, the terrorists returned, killing the village chief and another young man while burning numerous food stores and motorbikes. The attackers then sought out Pastor Owasu at his home on the church compound.
“I was not home. I was in another village doing ministry,” Pastor Owusu said. “They asked my wife where I was, and she said I was out. They told her that wherever I was, they would find me and kill me. They sought me out because I am a pastor who is leading and training my church members about Jesus.”
After the incident, Pastor Owasu fled to a nearby city with his family and church members, along with pastors and members from five other churches.
“In all these persecutions, I held fast to my faith and continued fervently in the ministry. I got land here in this city to build a simple shed structure for our church. We can now do our Sunday Services and evening prayers inside. God protected and saved my life.”