Six dead, including priest, in church attack in Burkina Faso

Hundreds have died in a wave of attacks in the last two years(Photo: Reuters)

An attack on a church in Burkina Faso has left six people dead, including the priest. 

The Catholic church was also burned down when dozens of attackers stormed the building in Dablo, in the north of the country, during mass on Sunday.

Dablo mayor Ousmane Zongo told AFP news agency that villagers have retreated indoors in fear following the attack. 

"Armed individuals burst into the Catholic church ... They started firing as the congregation tried to flee," he said. 

"There is an atmosphere of panic in the town. People are holed up in their homes, nothing is going on. The shops and stores are closed. It's practically a ghost town," he said.

According to the BBC, local residents accused soldiers in a nearby base of failing to respond promptly. 

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

An eyewitness told World Watch Monitor that the victims were killed after they refused to renounce their faith.

"The assailants asked the Christians to convert to Islam, but the pastor and the others refused," the eyewitness said. 

Fides news agency reports that four people were killed in an earlier attack in April on a Catholic church in a village close to Silgadji. 

World Watch Monitor reports that a Spanish Catholic priest was killed by armed men, believed to be Islamist militants, while travelling to Nohao in the south-east from Togo.

Burkina Faso has seen a wave of attacks by Islamist groups believed to have links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. 

Henri Ye, president of the Federation of Evangelical Churches and Missions in Burkina Faso, spoke out against the violence following last month's church attack. 

He said: "It's not only the church of Sirgadji that has been attacked; all the values of tolerance, forgiveness, and love that have always led our country have been hurt. The freedom of worship consecrated by our fundamental law [the Constitution] has been flouted."

He added: "In the face of blind hatred, let us ask God to give us the strength to spread love, which makes us the children of God. The unity of the Body of Christ and of the whole nation must be preserved at all costs."