Survivors Recount “terrifying” Experience of July 3 Terrorist Attacks in Burkina Faso

Pilgrims praying at the Shrine of Our Lady of Yagma in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Credit: ACN

Survivors of a terrorist attack in Bourasso in Burkina Faso’s Nouna Diocese that left dozens killed have recounted their experiences of the Sunday, July 3 attack.

The Catholic charity and pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, has reported that “at least 22 people, perhaps more, were murdered during a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso.”

In interviews with ACN shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, July 6, survivors recounted their experiences of the attack.

“The terrorists entered the village of Bourasso on motorbikes around 5 p.m. on Sunday 3 July, and went off again without doing anything… But they came back during the night, threatening the villagers in the square in front of the church,” one of the survivors told ACN. 

The survivor added, “While the villagers were begging to be spared, more inhabitants came to join in the pleading, because the terrorists had already come into this village several times and had been threatening the whole region for the past two years.”


“It was then that the armed men started shooting at the population,” the survivor said.

According to a Catholic Priest from the Cathedral Parish of Nouna Diocese who spoke to ACN, the terrorists “killed 14 people in front of the church.” 

“Then they went further into the center of the village and killed 20 others, among them many Christians and followers of traditional African religion,” the Priest said, adding that “The number of the attackers is difficult to ascertain during the night, but witnesses say there were doubtless several dozen.”

“It’s terrifying,” the Priest said and added, “These people have nothing to do with politics or terrorist groups.”

The inhabitants of the attacked villages, he said, “have nothing to defend themselves with when they are attacked. It’s absolute turmoil.”

More in Africa

“I’m really sad… I knew almost all the victims,” the Priest who narrowly escaped a terrorist ambush in the region on May 9 said.

Another survivor also shared his experience of the July 3 attack saying, “They (terrorists) came to my home and took two members of my family.”

“They killed them before leaving,” the survivor lamented, and continued, “It was agonizing. I was terrified that they were going to come back and look for the rest of my family.”

Burkina Faso, one of the ten countries in the Sahel region, has been facing rampant violence occasioned by political crises, which offer a fertile ground for the proliferation of extremist groups such as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the al-Qaeda affiliate Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin.

ACN has reported that on the morning of the July 3 attack, the “Diocese of Nouna had celebrated a joyful Mass of thanksgiving for the ordination of two of its Priests, the day before.”


“The diocese was also giving thanks for the seven years of service of its catechist, who lives in Bourasso. Little did the parishioners know that the same night a group of faithful, including two brothers of the catechist, would be murdered by the terrorists,” ACN has further reported.

In the interview with the Catholic Priest of Nouna Diocese, which ACN reported July 6, the Cleric said the people of God in the West African nation remain hopeful despite the recurrent attacks.

“In spite of everything, we keep up our hope,” he said, and added, “We keep up our courage to live the days that God has given us.” 

“Here, when you get up, you know that you are alive, but you don’t know if you will still be alive in the evening,” the Catholic Priest said.

In the interview shared with ACI Africa, ACN leadership says it “stands with victims of terrorism”.

(Story continues below)

“ACN supports the Catholic Church in Burkina Faso by promoting a return to life for the victims of Islamist violence and displaced people,” ACN leadership says.

ACN officials say the charity “finances projects aimed at healing trauma. It has likewise subsidized several radio projects which promote communication, information sharing and pastoral work in areas where most of the population had to flee to save their lives.”

 “In 2021, ACN supported 75 projects in Burkina Faso,” the Catholic entity says in the report shared with ACI Africa July 6.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.