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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Authorities in Burkina Faso have reported that dozens of individuals were fatally shot at a mosque, coinciding with a separate attack on a church, marking a tragic day for the nation.

The assault unfolded during the early hours of prayer when armed assailants besieged the mosque located in Natiaboani town. According to a local resident cited by the AFP news agency, the victims, predominantly male, were members of the Muslim community.

Burkina Faso, grappling with widespread instability, currently sees over a third of its territory under the influence of Islamist insurgents. The attackers, suspected to be affiliated with Islamist factions, also targeted soldiers and a local self-defense militia on the same day.

Eyewitness accounts relay a harrowing scene of hundreds of militants wielding machine guns and traversing on motorbikes, as described by local media outlets. While official figures have been provided, unverified reports circulating on social media suggest a potentially higher death toll from the mosque attack.

Natiaboani, the site of the assaults, is situated in the troubled eastern region of Burkina Faso, known for the presence of multiple armed groups. Concurrently, in the country’s northeast, at least 15 worshippers were slain during a Sunday mass at a Catholic church in Essakane. Church officials have attributed the attack to suspected Islamist militants.

Although authorities have not officially linked the two incidents, speculation has arisen regarding the possibility of a coordinated scheme. Burkina Faso’s L’Observateur Paalga newspaper, in particular, has raised questions regarding the synchronicity of the assaults.

Attacks targeting religious entities are not uncommon in Burkina Faso, underscored by previous instances such as the abduction of a priest from Djibo five years ago, who remains missing to this day. Additionally, in 2021, the principal imam of Djibo suffered a similar fate, kidnapped and subsequently found deceased by armed captors.

Humanitarian organizations have drawn attention to Burkina Faso’s dire plight, labeling it as one of the world’s most neglected crises. Persistent insecurity has displaced over two million individuals, while the United Nations estimates that a significant portion of children under five suffers from malnutrition-related stunted growth.

Despite promises made by the military, which seized power two years ago, to quell insurgent activity, violence continues to ravage Burkina Faso, perpetuating a cycle of turmoil and anguish among its populace.

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