Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Armed men attack mosque, kill at least 16

Published:Monday | October 14, 2019 | 12:08 AM

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Armed men stormed the grand mosque in Burkina Faso’s northern village of Salmossi, killing at least 16 people and wounding two others, a local official said Sunday.

The armed men entered during evening prayers on Friday, according to Ernest Bouma Nebie, a regional official in Oudalan province near the border with Mali.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but extremist groups with links to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are active in the region. Increased attacks along the border in the past few months have forced more than a quarter million people to flee, the United Nations refugee agency says.

This is not the first attack on a place of worship in Burkina Faso.

In May, gunmen killed six members of a parish in Dablo in Sanmatenga province, and gunmen in Sirgadji attacked a church, killing a pastor. The same month, at least five Catholic worshippers were killed during Sunday services and dozens were wounded in Toulfe in the north.

In September 2018, armed men attacked a mosque in Djabiga in the east, killing five people.

On Saturday about 1,000 people gathered in the capital, Ouagadougou, at the invitation of a dozen civil society organisations to denounce terrorism and the presence of foreign military bases in Africa.

Once-peaceful Burkina Faso experienced its first major extremist attack in 2015 and now is a member of a five-nation regional counterterror force launched in 2017, the G5 Sahel.