Francis prays for victims of Burkina Faso attack

Francis prays for victims of Burkina Faso attack

Pope Francis prays the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum in Rome, April 3, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.
Pope Francis prays the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum in Rome, April 3, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

.- Pope Francis is praying for the victims of the recent attack on a Catholic church in Burkina Faso, the interim head of the Holy See press office said Monday.

"The Holy Father learned with sorrow the news of the attack on the church in Dablo, in #BurkinaFaso. He prays for the victims, for their families and for the whole Christian community of the country," Alessandro Gisotti wrote on Twitter May 13.

A group of gunmen burned down a church building in Dablo May 12 while Mass was being said. At least six people, including a priest, were killed.

The attackers reportedly burst into the church around 9 am.

France 24 cited a security source who said there were “some twenty to thirty armed men" involved in the attack. The gunmen are as yet unidentified. 

A government official told the BBC that the militants also set fire to a nearby shops and a health center. Dablo’s Mayor, Ousmane Zongo, said the town is “filled with panic” and that citizens are “holed up at home.”

The people of Burkina Faso have suffered an increasing number of terrorist attacks in recent years from Islamist groups. Authorities said five teachers were shot to death in an attack on Friday.

The government in Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces last December because of Islamist attacks, including in the region where the assault on Sunday took place, Reuters reports. 

Sunday’s attack is the second on a Catholic church in the area this year; four died after an attack on a church in a nearby village in April. In addition, attackers targeted a Protestant church during the same month, killing six.