Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré of Dori has condemned the ongoing, targeted slaughter of Christians by Islamic radicals, warning it could lead to the elimination of a Christian presence in Burkina Faso.
“If this continues without anyone intervening, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence in this area and — perhaps in the future —in the entire country,” Bishop Dabiré told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic group providing assistance to persecuted Christians around the world
Since January 2019, there have been five major jihadist attacks on Christians in the country, ACN reported Tuesday, the last of which occurred in late June.
“It happened in the neighboring Diocese of Ouahigouya,” the bishop said. “The Islamists arrived and forced everyone to lie on the floor. Then they were registered, and four of them who were carrying crucifixes were killed for being Christians.”
After the massacre, the jihadists told the other villagers that if they did not convert to Islam, they would also be killed.
The ongoing Islamist violence has affected the three dioceses of Dori, Kaya, and Ouahigouya, the bishop noted.
As Breitbart News reported, jihadists killed a priest and five parishioners during Sunday Mass last May in an attack on a Catholic church in Dablo, northern Burkina Faso.
“Towards 9:00 am, during Mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic church,” said the mayor of Dablo, Ousmane Zongo. “They started firing as the congregation tried to flee.”
Bishop Dabiré said that the jihadist attacks have intensified since 2015.
“Before they only acted in the border areas with Mali and Niger, but, little by little, they have been penetrating inside, striking the army, officials, and the general population,” he said.
“Today their goal is Christians, and I think they want to unleash an interfaith conflict,” he said.
The bishop added that young natives of Burkina Faso have enlisted with the jihadists because of a lack of money, work, and prospects, but there are also those who join these movements because they consider them “an expression of their Islamic faith.”
Dabiré also said that fear is growing within the Christian community.
“The level of insecurity is constantly increasing, to the point of even forcing us to reduce pastoral activity,” he said, noting that he has had to close two parishes to protect believers and pastoral workers.
The bishop also denounced those who sell arms to the jihadists.
“The weapons they use are not manufactured in Africa,” he said. “They have rifles, machine guns, and a lot of ammunition, more than what the Burkinese Army has access to. When they enter villages, they shoot for hours. Who provides these resources? If they did not receive support from abroad, they would stop.”