Four people were killed and a statue of the Virgin Mary was destroyed in an attack on parishioners during a religious procession in Burkina Faso, church officials told CNN on Wednesday.
Unidentified armed men, who on Monday stopped a group of worshipers during a Catholic parade in the remote village of Zimtenga, in the Kongoussi area of the country’s northwest, set children free but killed four adults.
They then burned a statue of the Virgin Mary, Paul Ouédraogo, president of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger told CNN.
Monday’s attack came a day after six people, including a priest, were killed by gunmen who opened fire on worshipers in a Catholic church in Dablo in the central part of the country.
“We will not be bogged down by the religious attacks,” said Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo at an ongoing conference of Catholic bishops in the capital, Ouagadougou, on Tuesday.
Christians have recently come under attack across the northwest African country, which is facing a growing terrorist threat. In April, five churchgoers, including a pastor, were killed in a deadly attack by armed men in Silgadji town.
Escalating attacks by armed Islamist groups have forced tens of thousands to flee their villages this year, Human Rights Watch said in a recent report.
French forces last week freed four hostages, including an American and South Korean, in a rescue operation in Burkina Faso that saw two soldiers killed.
The US in February said it might send additional military advisers as well as intelligence and surveillance assets such as drones to Burkina Faso to help fight the uptick in terrorism attacks in the country.
Violent incidents in the country linked to the local affiliates of al Qaeda and ISIS rose from 24 in 2017 to 136 in 2018, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
Journalist Ouezen Louis Oulon wrote from Ouagadougou and CNN’s Bukola Adebayo wrote from Lagos