Against the backdrop of an Islamist insurgency with links to al Qaeda and the Islamic State or ISIS, more than a dozen Christians were shot dead in an attack on a church in eastern Burkina Faso early Sunday, according to the government.
The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear and further details on the attack had yet to emerge, but an Islamist insurgency has ignited ethnic and religious tensions in Burkina Faso this year, rendering large parts of the country ungovernable, especially in northern areas bordering unstable Mali.
Armed forces in the African country were caring for the wounded and searching the area, the government said in a statement to Reuters. At least 14 people died.
The attack happened in the village of Hantoukoura near the border with Niger in the Est region, an area known for lawlessness that has come under attack over the past year from suspected jihadi groups with links to al Qaeda and ISIS.
On Nov. 6 gunmen attacked a convoy of buses carrying mine workers in the Est region, killing 39.
The timing of the latest incident, during hours of worship, mirrored other attacks on Christians this year — a new threat in a West African country that has long prided itself on its religious tolerance.
Burkina Faso was once a pocket of calm in the region, but the past year’s violence has killed hundreds and forced nearly a million people from their homes.