Radical Islamic terror is spreading in Africa faster than COVID-19.
While the media’s coverage causes virus panic, they ignore the rapidly growing terror threat.
And the shocking brutality of this latest jihadist attack is no exception.
A rash of self-proclaimed jihadist attacks in the West African nation have left several communities devastated and over 50 Christians dead.
Two of these attacks targeted humanitarian convoys transporting food and supplies to refugee areas. The presence of Christians in these convoys seemed to have attracted the jihadist groups.
Armed militants killed over two dozen people in these attacks, shouting anti-Christian sentiments as a way to “justify [the] killings.”
A survivor of one of the attacks said, “The driver shouted, ‘Forgive, forgive, we are also followers of the [Islamic] prophet Muhammad.”
“One of them [among the gunmen] turned to the other attackers and said, ‘They have the same religion with us.’”
It was only after some members of the convoy had identified themselves as Muslims that the shooting stopped.
In response to these attacks, Human Rights Watch noted that jihadists in Burkina Faso have repeatedly sought to “[link their] victims to the government, the West, or Christian belief.”
Corinne Dufka, the Human Rights Watch West Africa director, said, “Armed Islamist groups in Burkina Faso have attacked civilians with unmitigated cruelty and utter disregard for human life.”
“Deliberately targeting…worshippers [and other unprotected groups] are war crimes.”
“The Islamist armed groups need to immediately end their attacks on civilians [and Christians],” Dufka continued.
“At the same time, the Burkina Faso government should take stronger steps to protect vulnerable communities from harm and impartially investigate and appropriately prosecute those implicated in war crimes.”
Dufka and others have repeatedly called on the Burkina Faso government to protect Christians and other minority groups from radical Muslim terrorist cells within the country.
But the government has yet to step up and advocate for the rights of Christians within their borders, as evidenced by the continued attacks.
And it isn’t just humanitarian convoys that have been targeted—it’s churches as well. Christian gatherings have faced the brunt of jihadist wrath for several years, and 2020 has been no exception.
One Protestant church in a northern village was recently devastated in an attack that killed 24 people and wounded 18.
“The provisional toll is 24 killed, including the pastor…18 wounded and individuals who were kidnapped,” reported Colonel Salfo Kabore, a military leader who investigated the incident.
The “armed terrorists…attacked the peaceful local population [of Christians], after having identified them and separated them from non-residents.”
This attack is just one example of the recent rise in persecution throughout Burkina Faso.
Although many of the country’s natives claim that Christians and Muslims have historically coexisted peacefully, Christian leaders admit that tensions are continually rising.
And Christian will always bear the brunt of it.
“We have been seeing changes for around 20 or 30 years now,” said Father Pierre Claver Belemsigri, one of the foremost Christian leaders in Burkina Faso.
“Young people are [gaining] a particular vision of Islam that potentially has repercussions for our society and the coexistence between the different religions.”
“The influence of certain radical Islamic tendencies” has put Christians and other minorities at great risk, especially with the addition of the pandemic.
“There are those terrorists—whether from Burkina or from outside—who with guns in their hand really want to force the whole of Africa to become Islamic,” added Belemsigri. “They want to introduce sharia law to Burkina Faso.”
“Often, we don’t even know who it is who is attacking us,” Belemsigri continued, reflecting on the number of Christians killed without any warning. “We don’t [always] know our enemy.”
But Father Belemsigri was quick to add that, despite the jihadists’ efforts, Christianity is actually thriving in Burkina Faso.
“The faith is growing. And not simply on account of demographic growth, but also because of genuine conversions to Christianity,” he said.
“In some circles there may be threats and social sanctions [against converting to Christianity]. But…I have personally witnessed the baptism of an entire Muslim family.”
“The recent terrorist attacks against Christians have actually strengthened the faith of the people,” Belemsigri concluded. “Despite the danger, the people are proud to [confess Christ].”
“The Lord is in control, Christ is alive.”
Please continue to pray for the persecuted church in Burkina Faso and around the world! God is moving and He is indeed in control, even amid violence and evil.