OUAGADOUGOU/YAOUNDE: (BosNewsLife)– Christians in two African nations are forced to bury loved ones after Islamic militants killed dozens of Christians in recent days. In Burkina Faso, Islamic militants claiming to be executing “in the name of Allah” returned to the scene of a previous atrocity and murdered at least ten Christian men in a village market place, confirmed Christian aid group, Barnabas Fund. “Some estimates have put the death toll as high as 50,” the group added.
The January 25 attack reportedly rocked the small northern town of Silgadji. It was the same area where Boko Haram group militants allegedly rampaged last year in April, shooting the pastor, his son, and four members of the congregation. The April murders marked the start of a wave of Boko Haram violence in Burkina Faso in 2019.
Barnabas Fund quoted a witness to the latest outrage as saying: “The terrorists surrounded the people at the village market, before separating them into two groups. The men were killed, and the women were ordered to leave the village.”
Local Christians said the gunmen roared into Silgadji on motorbikes and threatened to kill anyone who would not convert to Islam. Days earlier, on January 20, jihadists “murdered 36 people in the neighboring villages of Nagraogo and Alamou,” Barnabas Fund added.
Eight of the dead were Christians returning to their home village, Nagraogo, to collect their belongings after seeking refuge from the extremist threat at an internally displaced person camp in Barsalogo, Christians said. “Our contact said it showed that the jihadists were well informed of the Christians’ movements and were able to target them,” Barnabas Fund explained
CAMEROON CHRISTIANS MOURNING
Terrorist violence began to increase in Burkina Faso in 2015, but in 2019 Christians became the primary target. At least 191 Christians have been killed since the first Silgadji attack in April 2019, including these latest atrocities, according to Barnabas Fund investigators.
Christians were also plunged into mourning in Cameroon, where five Christians were reportedly killed in a Boko Haram night-time attack on a Christian village in the Far North region. Details of the January 17 attack just emerged, but Barnabas Fund said it was the same community “the Islamist terrorists” targeted nearly two weeks earlier.
Christians said villagers left everything behind as they fled the militants’ assault on Hidouwa village in Tourou district. “Around 195 homes were damaged during the four-hour rampage, which began at 11 p.m.”, Barnabas Fund quoted a contact as saying. “Right now, we can’t go to that village; even the soldiers have abandoned the village,” he reportedly said.
“The army had also pulled out of the nearby village of Hitere, scene of another brutal Boko Haram raid on January 6 when two men were killed and two children kidnapped. They saw the battalion of Boko Haram coming,” Barnabas Fund told BosNewsLife citing a contact. Several Christian villages, including Hidouwa and Hitere, are under Boko Haram’s control, and terrified families are fleeing, some to the town of Koza, Christians said.
There are concerns that the militants will soon overrun the whole district, Barnabas Fund added. Local Christians have asked for prayer “because Tourou is in danger,”
the Barnabas Fund contact said. “Everybody is confused, we don’t know what to do, and we can’t understand what is happening. We are asking, is it because 98 percent of the villages are Christian? Pray for we Christians in this area.”