Fourteen Christians, including several children, were brutally murdered by suspected radical Islamists in the African nation of Burkina Faso.
The BBC reports that the attack occurred in the town of Hantoukoura on Sunday, December 1, by unknown assailants near the border of Niger. Pastor Tchintchiéba Ouoba, thirteen congregants, and five children were among the casualties at the Protestant church.
The identity of the gunmen are unknown, but Reuters notes that there has been growing tension between radical Islamists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State, who are violently increasing their influence in the northern region of the small African nation.
Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog group, spoke with a minister in the nearby Burkina Faso town of Kaya regarding the assault.
“We don’t know who the attackers are, neither do we know who is sponsoring them,” Pastor Samuel Sawadogo said. “All we know is that they attack Christians. These attacks have shattered the lives of our people. We are troubled and filled with pain over the deaths of our family members.”
This follows an attack in November by radical jihadists, who attacked a convoy of coal miners, leading to the death of at least thirty-nine workers.
In November, the State Department issued a travel advisory on the nation, warning Americans: “Do not travel to Burkina Faso due to terrorism, crime, and kidnapping.”
When asked about the December attack, a spokesperson for the State Department told The Daily Wire: “The United States is concerned about the increased terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso that led to the displacement of approximately 500,000 Burkinabe citizens. These attacks have targeted representatives of all religious groups in Burkina Faso in addition to non-religious, and governmental community leaders. Burkina Faso has a long tradition of peaceful coexistence among different groups. Islam, Christianity, traditional indigenous religious beliefs, and others are practiced freely without government interference. We will continue to support Burkina Faso’s efforts in the fight against terrorist that threaten the country’s peaceful traditions.”
“The U.S. Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” the State Department spokesperson continued. “As our Advisory notes, the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens throughout most of the country, as U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling to regions outside the capitol due to security concerns. Due to these concerns, the Department advises that U.S. citizens not travel to Burkina Faso. We urge all U.S. citizens living in Burkina Faso to evaluate their circumstances and re-consider whether it remains appropriate for you to remain in-country.”
The African country once prided itself as a calm nation, but radical jihadists from Mali have continued to ramp up attacks on Christians and other religious minorities in the region, forcing the closure of schools and displacing thousands of citizens who are trying to survive the chaos.
In response to the attacks, Bloomberg reports that the Burkina Faso government will increase its defense and security budget by 13%, or $3.8 billion, to help quell the violence besetting the nation.