Church attack in Burkina Faso leaves four dead

Churches have been targeted in a string of deadly attacks(Photo: Reuters)

A Catholic church in Burkina Faso was attacked during Mass last Sunday, leaving four dead. 

Heavily armed men storm the church in Toulfe, in the north of the country, and opened fire on worshippers in yet another church attack in the country.  Two people were injured.

Bishop Justin Kientega, of Ouahigouya, told Vatican News that it was "a terrorist attack". 

It follows an attack during a religious procession in Zimtenga a week earlier and an attack on a church in Dablo in which six people, including the priest, died.

separate attack on a Protestant church in nearby Silgadji last month also killed six people, among them the priest and his son.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the latest attack, Islamist militants have become increasingly active in the country, with terrorist groups operating across the Sahel region, including in neighbouring Mali. 

The spate of attacks is threatening to unravel years of peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians in the country. 

Bishop Theophile Nare, of the neighboring Kaya Diocese, told Vatican News that Christians do not want to be caught up in violence.

He said the attacks on the church were "the work of a radicalised group of Muslims". 

"I see this as part of jihadists' strategy, which is to inflame tensions between [the Christian and Muslim] communities through their actions," he said.

"I think the driving vision is to spark war that is inter-ethnic, inter-religious, and inter-communal."

The violence has caused many Christians to seek safety in the south of the country, while in some places, churches and schools have closed.

A local church leader who asked to be unnamed for security reasons recently told Open Doors: "Christians are in hiding. No one dares to sleep in his house because of the fear of being killed. It's very hard for us. We need your prayers."