Catholics attacked again in Burkina Faso
Diocese of Ouahigouya has confirmed the deaths of four Catholics.
This latest attack brings to 12, within two months, the number of Catholics killed by terrorists in the diocese because of their religious affiliation. (Photo by OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT/AFP)
The bishop of the strife-torn Diocese of Ouahigouya in Burkina Faso has confirmed the recent deadly attacks on Catholics and has described the spate of such assaults as a distressing humanitarian crisis.
The diocese in north-central Burkina Faso in a statement announced the death of four Catholics in a terrorist attack in the village of Bani on June 27.
The attack was confirmed to La Croix Africa on July 2 by Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya.
"In Bam Province, the parish priest in Titao told me about the death of the village shopkeeper and the parish priest of Bourzanga also confirmed the death of four people," he said.
This latest attack brings to 12, within two months, the number of Catholics killed by terrorists in the diocese because of their religious affiliation.
On May 13, in the parish of Notre-Dame du Lac de Bam, in the same diocese, Catholics in a Marian procession were intercepted and four of them were killed by unidentified armed individuals. Two weeks later, on May 26, four more Catholics were killed in the parish of Titao in the same diocese.
The insecurity in this area has created a humanitarian crisis, said Bishop Kientega.
"Despite the existence of social action groups, people from these threatened areas are moving to other parishes to ask for help. We house them in two schools: Sainte Marie de Titao and Saint Albert de Bourzanga," the bishop said.
In his view, care is a problem.
"There are fears for their housing with the rainy season already here. We are in the process of approaching government departments to address the needs of these vulnerable people. We have already had help from the Catholic Organization for Development and Solidarity [an international alliance of Catholic development agencies] but the numbers of those needing help are increasing," he said.
This is not the only concern of the people of this diocese exposed to terrorist attacks.
"These displaced people, housed in the city, are mostly farmers. What will we do next year? It is also necessary to think about it," Bishop Kientega said, adding that in the region, contact is well established and regular between priests and governors, mayors, security forces and social action groups.
How do you live with a terrorist threat?
The statement from the Diocesan Communication Center of Ouahigouya notes that the terrorists "proceeded to identify the people by asking for the first name of each person to check if they had Christian first names and wore crosses or medals. Thereafter, four Catholics, each wearing a cross around the neck, were identified, segregated and executed.
In the face of such attacks, Bishop Kientega urged Christians not to nurture the spirit of revenge and hatred and appealed to all those who are willing to support them to provide psychological help, food and care for the displaced.
Bishop Kientega has also requested a police presence during eucharistic celebrations.