Gunmen kill six during Catholic mass in Burkina Faso

Troops ride in a vehicle in central Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, March 2, 2018. (AP)
Updated 13 May 2019
0

Gunmen kill six during Catholic mass in Burkina Faso

  • Around 4.3 million people have been driven from their homes in the worsening violence that has engulfed the entire Sahel region

OUAGADOUGOU: Gunmen killed a priest and five parishioners during mass Sunday in an attack on a Catholic church in Dablo, northern Burkina Faso, security sources and a local official said.
“Towards 9:00 am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic church,” Dablo mayor Ousmane Zongo told AFP. “They started firing as the congregation tried to flee.”
The attackers — between 20 and 30 according to a security source — managed to trap some of the worshippers, Zongo added. “They killed five of them. The priest, who was celebrating mass, was also killed.”
The gunmen then set fire to the church, several shops and a small cafe before heading to the local health center, which they looted, burning the chief nurse’s vehicle.
“There is an atmosphere of panic in the town,” said Zongo.
“People are holed up in their homes. Nothing is going on. The shops and stores are closed. It’s practically a ghost town,” he added.
Security reinforcements were sent from Barsalogho, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) south of Dablo, and were combing the area, a security source told AFP. Dablo is located in the northern province of Sanmatenga.
Condemning the “barbaric and cowardly attack,” the government confirmed the toll of six killed, including a priest.
After “failing to pit communities against each other with targeted killings of traditional chiefs and community leaders, terrorist groups are now attacking religion in an evil plot to divide us,” it said in a statement.
The attack came two days after French special forces freed four foreign hostages in the north of the country in an overnight raid that cost the lives of two soldiers.
The operation was ordered to free French hostages Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas who disappeared while on holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park in Benin on May 1.
The team also found two other female captives, an American woman and a South Korean.

Sunday’s church strike came two weeks after a similar attack against a Protestant church in Silgadji, also in the north, when gunmen on motorbikes killed a pastor and five worshippers.
Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
The raids began in 2015 in the north before targeting the capital Ouagadougou and other regions, notably in the east.
Nearly 400 people have been killed since 2015 — mainly in hit-and-run raids — according to an AFP tally.
Jihadist groups target both Muslim and Christian clerics, mainly in the north.
According to security sources, the jihadists do not consider certain Muslim clerics sufficiently radical and sometimes accuse them of having collaborated with the authorities.
Religious leaders are not the only people targeted by the extremists. Last month, jihadists attacked a village school in Maitaougou, in the eastern province of Koulpelogo, killing five teachers and a municipal worker.
Former colonial ruler France has deployed 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad to help local forces flush out jihadist groups.
Around 4.3 million people have been driven from their homes in the worsening violence that has engulfed the entire Sahel region, including one million over the past year, according to UN humanitarian officials.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned Sunday’s attack and offered condolences as he cited “the sanctity of all places of worship,” according to a UN spokesman.
Guterres “urges all citizens of Burkina Faso to stand firmly with one another across communities and not to succumb to efforts to sow discord and breed further violence.”


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
0

Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.