Terrorist attacks in the nation of Burkina Faso have continued to intensify since the last Critical Issues & Trends – Terrorism report released on this area in April. The escalation of violence in Burkina Faso over the last month has included direct targets of churches and schools.
- Final week of April terrorists struck a church in Burkina Faso killing the pastor and 5 congregants. Later in the same week five teachers were targeted and killed.
- May 10, five more teachers killed by terrorists.
- May 12, six killed in a Catholic church which was then torched by the terrorists
- May 13, four Catholics killed
The terrorists appear to be deliberately attacking Christian targets in an effort to stir up tensions and violence between Christians and Muslims in Burkina Faso. The nation’s President noted this trend is a shift in the terrorist groups former strategy that focused on farmers and herdsmen. Burkina Faso is approximately 60% Muslim and 30% Christian.
Other observers have noted the similarities between the terrorist activity in Burkina Faso and Boko Haram in Nigeria and West Africa. According to this perspective, the targets of these extremists are not only Christians but also state institutions including the education systems and anything associated with western influence in the region.
In the past several years hundreds have been killed by terrorists in Burkina Faso and more than a thousand schools closed due to the violence. The United Nations reports more than 170,000 people have been displaced.
The original terrorist activity was thought to be coordinated by al Qaeda but as the unrest in surrounding nations of Mali and Niger bleed across the border influences of the Islamic State are also being recognized.
Burkina Faso’s foreign minister states the terrorism is being fueled by instability in Libya which is acting as a conduit for terrorist activity throughout the Sahel region of the African continent. “Libya is still a breeding ground of terrorists and criminals of all stripes, and is thus the main destabilizing element in our region.”