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Catholic Church Condoles with Victims of Terrorist Attack in Northern Burkina Faso

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN)/Credit: Fr. Paul Dah

Following the August 18 attack on a civilian convoy in Burkina Faso that left 47 people dead and several others injured, Catholic Bishops in the West African nation have expressed their closeness with the victims of the attack and their respective families, praying for lasting peace in the country.

“It is with dismay and sorrow that the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger learned of the terrorist attack which has once again plunged our country into mourning,” members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN) say in the statement issued Monday, August 23.

According to the Catholic Bishops, “This barbaric attack, which occurred on 18 August 2021 on the Arabinda-Gorgadji road, took the lives of elements of our defence and security forces (FDS) as well as a large number of civilians.”

On August 18, suspected jihadists reportedly killed at least 47 people, including 30 civilians, in an attack on a convoy in Northern Burkina Faso, according to France 24.

“30 civilians, 14 military police and three pro-government militia were killed, while 30 people were wounded,” Government officials said in a statement, adding that 58 militants were killed in the ensuing clashes with security forces.

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The President Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, declared three days of national mourning following the attack that took place on the road between Gorgadji and Arbinda, one of Burkina Faso's most volatile zones.

In their August 23 collective statement, members of CEBN “strongly condemn this heinous act” against innocent citizens in the West African nation. 

“In this painful circumstance, we present our sincere condolences to the grieving families and to the entire Burkinabé people, bereaved by this tragedy. We wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” the Catholic Bishops add.

They further invite “all the sons and daughters of the Church Family of God in Burkina Faso to intensify their prayer for peace in the country.”

“In concrete terms, each Diocesan Bishop will ensure that these prayers are organized for the victims of this attack and those of terrorism, and for peace in Burkina Faso,” the Catholic Bishops say in the statement signed by CEBN President, Bishop Laurent Dabiré.

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They implore, “May Mary, Queen of Peace, accompany us on the way to true peace, a gift of God and the fruit of human efforts.”

Burkina Faso together with the other eight countries that constitute the Sahel region have endured a resurgence of violence from extremists, “much of it carried out by jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State,” the New York Times has reported.

Known to have been one of West Africa’s most stable countries, Burkina Faso seems to have “been trapped in spiraling violence since jihadist groups claimed their first attacks, in 2015. Since then, the country has faced hundreds of attacks, some carried out by jihadist groups and others by local rebels,” the New York Times further indicated in the June 5 report.

On June 5, gunmen attacked the Solham village in the Northern part of the country killing at least 160 people.

Following the attack, the Cardinal in Burkina Faso launched a renewed call for prayers in solidarity with victims of the attack.

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In a statement issued June 8, Philippe Cardinal Ouedraogo said, “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.”

On June 12, members of CEBN urged security forces operating in the Sahel region to work toward restoring the optimism that had characterized Burkina Faso before the Solhan village massacre.

“We encourage the defense and security forces, with the help of all, to be more determined in restoring peace in the zones of insecurity,” members of CEBN said in the June 12 statement.