At least 14 people were murdered on Sunday at a Christian church in the West African nation of Burkina Faso when attackers stormed the church and opened fire.
“The violence Sunday occurred in an area known for banditry that has come under attack over the past year from suspected jihadist groups with to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State,” The New York Times reported. “Its timing, during hours of worship, mirrored other attacks on Christians this year – a new phenomenon in a West African country that has long prided itself on its religious tolerance.”
The identities of the attackers is not yet known although numerous news reports from on today’s massacre have all mentioned that Burkina Faso has seen a rise in Islamic terrorism in recent years.
A source told AFP that approximately 10 “heavily armed individuals” carried out the attack on the church, “executing the faithful including the pastor and children.”
The Associated Press reported that President Roch Marc Christian Kabore condemned “the barbaric attack” on the church, which was carried out in the town of Hantoukoura, and offered his “deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
Over the past few years, numerous reports have emerged stating that Christians are the most persecuted group in the world.
In 2016, Fox News reported that the “Center for Studies on New Religions determined that 90,000 Christians were killed for their beliefs worldwide last year and nearly a third were at the hands of Islamic extremists like ISIS. Others were killed by state and non-state persecution, including in places like North Korea.”
The study also reportedly found that over half a billion Christians were prevented from practicing their faith in 2016.
Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, told Fox News that under the Obama administration the U.S. did not have “a strategy for specifically addressing the persecution of Christians. For example, very few people are even aware that Iraqi Christians began organizing to defend themselves and needed our help.”
In September of this year, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a report outlining religious persecution around the world.
Gary Bauer, one of the nine commissioners on USCIRF, noted that the world is becoming especially dangerous for Christians, saying, “Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and it’s accelerating.”
As a result of the findings in the report, the USCIRF urged the State Department to give the following countries the designation of “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC): Burma, Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
Bauer expressed special concern over one of the nations that appeared on the list: China.
Bauer told CBN News: “So here’s a rising power. It’s economy is growing bigger and bigger each year, its military is expanding. It’s got worldwide ambitions and every place it reaches it’s bringing these values of persecution along with them.”
Jeremy Hunt, a British Member of Parliament who was appointed Foreign Secretary, released an even more dire report this year on the violence that Christians are facing around the world, warning that Christian persecution is “at near genocide levels.”
“Hunt said he felt that ‘political correctness’ had played a part in the issue not being confronted,” the BBC reported. “The interim report said the main impact of ‘genocidal acts against Christians is exodus’ and that Christianity faced being ‘wiped out’ from parts of the Middle East.”
The BBC continued, “It warned the religion ‘is at risk of disappearing’ in some parts of the world, pointing to figures which claimed Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq they had fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.”
Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen said, “Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity. In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”