Gunmen kill 24 people, including a church pastor, in Yagha province, officials say. In a separate incident, roadside bomb in restive Loroum region kills five Burkinabe soldiers.

A displaced woman looks on while she waits for help at a village in northern Dablo area, Burkina Faso March 1, 2019.
A displaced woman looks on while she waits for help at a village in northern Dablo area, Burkina Faso March 1, 2019. (Reuters Archive)

Gunmen killed 24 people and wounded 18 in an attack on a Protestant church in a village in northern Burkina Faso, officials said on Monday.

In a separate incident, five Burkinabe soldiers in the troubled region were killed by a roadside bomb, security sources said.

A group of "armed terrorists" raided the village of Pansi, in Yagha province "and attacked the peaceful local population after having identified them and separated them from non-residents", the governor, Colonel Salfo Kabore, said in a statement sent to AFP news agency.

The assault occurred on Sunday during a weekly service at a Protestant church, security officials said.

"The provisional toll is 24 killed, including the pastor... 18 wounded and individuals who were kidnapped," Kabore said.

A resident of the nearby town of Sebba said Pansi villagers had fled there for safety.

Insurgency in Sahel region

Christians and churches in northern provinces have become frequent targets by militants.

On February 10, suspected militants in Sebba seized seven people at the home of a pastor. 

Five bodies were found three days later, including the pastor, according to the local governor.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso is on the front line of a militant insurgency advancing in the Sahel region.

Since 2015, around 750 people have been killed in Burkina and around 600,000 people have fled their homes.

In 2014, the French replaced Operation Serval with Operation Barkhane which is aimed at countering militant forces across the Sahel through its bases in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad. (TRT World)
In 2014, the French replaced Operation Serval with Operation Barkhane which is aimed at countering militant forces across the Sahel through its bases in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad. (TRT World) (TRTWorld)

IED targets soldiers

Also in the north of the country, five soldiers were killed on Sunday when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near Banh, in Loroum province, security sources said.

"Three of the five were killed instantly and the two others died later from serious injuries," one of the sources said.

Thirty people in Burkina Faso have died in four attacks by highway bombs since the start of the year, according to an AFP toll.

They include seven schoolchildren in the northwest of the country who were among 14 killed aboard a bus that had taken a road that had been banned because of the security risk.

According to UN figures, militants attacks in Burkina and neighbouring Mali and Niger left nearly 4,000 people dead last year.

Their armed forces are weak, struggling with poor equipment and lack of training and funding.

In Niger, a policeman was killed on Sunday at a police post near Ayorou, in the western region of Tillaberi, in the second attack in the area in a week, a security official said.

Source: AFP