Armed terrorists stormed a Christian church in Burkina Faso on Sunday and murdered 24 people, including the pastor of the church, while injuring approximately a dozen more and kidnapping an undisclosed number of people.
“It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, which comes as jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State seek to gain control over once peaceful rural Burkina Faso, fuelling ethnic and religious conflict,” Reuters reported. “The timing of the shooting, during a church service in the village of Pansi in the Yagha region, mirrors that of other attacks on Christians in the past year, including church attacks and assassinations of pastors and priests.”
Corinne Dufka, the region’s director for Human Rights Watch, told the Associated Press: “Perpetrators use victims’ links to government or their faith to justify the killings, while others appear to be reprisal killings for killings by the government security forces.”
“Authorities said some 20 attackers separated men from women close to the church in Pansy town. They reportedly looted oil and rice from shops and forced the three youth they kidnapped to help transport it on their motorbikes,” Vatican News reported. “The past week has seen an escalation of attacks against religious leaders in the area. Last week, also in Yagha province, a retired pastor was killed and aid workers reported the abduction of another pastor.”
In December, suspected Islamic terrorists killed 14 Christians in an attack on a church during a worship service.
The Daily Wire reported late last year on the increasing levels of persecution against Christians worldwide:
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.”
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.”