Ivorian Priest Calls for Collaboration in Tackling Terrorism after Burkina Faso Killings

Fr. Norbert-Éric Abekan/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Priest in Ivory Coast is advocating for collaborative strategies in the fight against terrorism following last weekend’s attack on Solham village in Burkina Faso during which at least 160 people lost their lives.

In his Friday, June 11 statement, the Parish Priest of the Holy Family Riviera 2 Parish of Abidjan Archdiocese, Fr. Norbert-Éric Abekan condemns the June 5 early morning attack.

“Stunned and shocked by this unspeakable attack, I want to express here my indignation and my great consternation at this massacre. I condemn with the greatest vigour this cowardly and barbaric act that has once again struck this sister country,” Fr. Abekan says.

Increased terrorist attacks in the Sahel region, he says, “demonstrates the need for an unprecedented mobilization of all energies and the cohesion of all the components of the national communities to overcome the scourge of terrorism.”

“African Heads of State are strongly called upon and must imperatively bring back peace in our countries by providing them with effective strategies to counter insecurity,” he further says, adding that the people only aspire to live in peace and security.


Burkina Faso has been experiencing frequent attacks linked to Al-Qaeda since 2015. The attacks that started near the border with Mali have since spread across the country. 

In the June 11 statement, Fr. Abekan says the people of God in the region “are helplessly watching the murderous madness of these lawless men who have crossed the threshold of horror.”

“Their repeated acts of barbarism would lead the valiant religious leaders and peacemakers who work in cities and villages to promote dialogue and living together to believe that their work has collapsed and that they are useless,” the Ivorian Cleric says.

To avoid such a pitfall, Fr. Abekan says, there is need “to reaffirm our will to lead the fight against the ideologies of death.”

“We must not give in. But above all, we must continue to fight against those fanatics who try by all means to ‘kill’ the Human Fraternity,” the Parish Priest of Holy Family Riviera 2 Parish says.

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Making reference to the 2019 Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Priest says that the religious leaders call on humanity “to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism and to stop using the name of God to justify acts of homicide, terrorism and oppression.”

“For God, the Almighty, does not need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people,” he adds in reference to the document signed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Emphasizing the importance of fraternity, the Ivorian Priest says, “The recognition and defence of the dignity of every human person must be the concern of each and every one, through charity and brotherhood.”

Fr. Abekan expresses his solidarity with victims of the June 5 attack saying, “To all those sisters and brothers who are hard hit by these tragedies, be assured of my prayer and that of many people of good will.”

“We pray that the Lord will change the hearts of the violent, and help us to respond to violence with love for our enemies, as God recommends,” the Priest implores. 


On June 8, Burkina Faso’s Cardinal launched a renewed call for prayers in solidarity with victims of the Solham attack. 

“Our country, Burkina Faso, has once again suffered a tragic attack in Solhan … in the Yagha region of the Sahel.  In the name of our Church Family of God, we offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and entrust to the Lord’s mercy the victims of Solhan and all the victims of terrorist attacks, both civilian and military, in our country,” Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo said. 

The Local Ordinary of Ouagadougou Archdiocese added, “To show our solidarity with all the victims, whatever their religious or ethnic affiliation, and with those populations traumatized by acts of violence, we launch a renewed call to prayer throughout the territory of the Archdiocese of Ouagadougou.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.