Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Dec 19, 2019 / 10:47 am
Extremist attacks have risen dramatically in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, from 180 incidents in 2017 to more than 800 violent attacks in 2019, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The rise in violence by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the al-Qaeda affiliate Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin led the U.S. Secretary of State to declare in November that the Sahel will be a "preferred area of focus" outside of the Middle East for the Defeat ISIS coalition.
Christians have been the target of number of such attacks in the Sahel this year. On December 1 gunmen attacked a Protestant service in Burkina Faso, killing 14 people, including several children.
"There is an ongoing persecution of Christians. For months, we bishops have been denouncing what is happening in Burkina Faso, but nobody is listening to us," Bishop Justin Kientega of Ouahigouya told Aid to the Church in Need following the December attack.