Senior United Nations (UN) officials have voiced their outrage at an attack by unidentified militants on a Catholic church in Burkina Faso on Sunday, which killed six people.
The attack took place in the town of Dablo in north Sanmentenga province. A group of gunmen broke into the church and opened fire on people who were attending Mass.
The church along with other buildings were burned down after the gunmen set fire to nearby shops.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged “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.”
He stressed the sanctity of all places of worship and expressed his hopes that the perpetrators be swiftly brought to justice.
Maria Espinosa, president of the UN General Assembly, said on social network Twitter that the killers must be held accountable. “We cannot tolerate hatred. The fundamental right of religious freedom must be respected everywhere,” he wrote.
Metsi Makhetha, UN resident coordinator in Burkina Faso, condemned on Twitter the “heinous attacks” and offered her condolences to the families of the victims.
The shootings came just days after warnings from top UN humanitarian officials of an “unprecedented” rise in “sophisticated armed attacks in the Sahel.”
Since 2015, the West African country has been faced with an unstable security situation. Last month, a pastor and four of his followers were slaughtered in a village in the northeastern province of Soum.
According to the UN, risks have been spilling over into other West African countries, leading to a five-fold rise in the displacement of the local population in the last 12 months. Enditem