Gunmen kill six during Catholic mass in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso church attack

Reports from Burkina Faso indicate that gunmen stormed a church during mass in an attack that led to the death of six people including a priest.

The attack is the first on a Catholic church since terrorist attacks began in the country in 2015. The mayor of Dablo, Ousmane Zongo, told AFP: "Towards 9:00am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic Church".

Several shops were also torched before they headed to the local health centre, which they looted and then torched the chief nurse's vehicle.

The attack comes two days after the release of four hostages in northern Burkina Faso by French special forces in a daring night-time raid. "It's practically a ghost town".

France's military has freed four hostages who were being held in Burkina Faso.

The attack on Sunday took place in Dablo, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the capital, Ouagadougou.

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Frenchmen Laurent Lassimouillas, 46, and Patrick Picque, 51, were seized by kidnappers in Benin's Pendjari National Park, near the border with Burkina Faso, on May 1.

But violence has only worsened since.

Roughly 55% to 60% of Burkina Faso's population is Muslim, with up to a quarter Christian.

Over the past six months, at least 5,000 people have been killed in the Sahel - the sub-Saharan region of northern Africa - amid an escalation of inter-ethnic violence ranging from bombings to massacres to suicide attacks. "They made everyone lie down, executed five before torching the church".

Fighters affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group as well as the local Ansarul Islam have been active in the region.

Germany will give an additional €20 million to Burkina Faso and over €35 million to Niger ($22.4 million and $39 million, respectively) to support development projects as well as the outfitting and training of police officers in each country, she said.

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