Burkina Faso church attack: Priest among six killed

6 Killed as Gunmen Attack Church in Burkina Faso During Sunday Mass - Report

A priest was among those killed in the church attack.

Five others were murdered when militants opened fire on a local church congregation in the northern town of Dablo as they gathered for mass.

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 United Nations humanitarian officials.

On Friday, French special forces carried out a rescue mission in northern Burkina Faso, freeing four hostages.

"Unidentified armed individuals attacked the Silgadji Protestant Church, killing four worshippers and the senior pastor".

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.

Muslim and Christian clerics have been targeted by the groups.

The latest attack on a church is the third in the countries within five weeks. The two groups generally live in peace and frequently intermarry.

Fighters affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group as well as the local Ansarul Islam have been active in the region.

In February, a Spanish priest, Father Cesar Fernandez, was killed in a raid attributed to jihadists in Nohao in the centre of the country.

Burkina Faso is part of the vast Sahel region, which has turned into a hotbed of violent extremism and lawlessness since chaos engulfed Libya in 2011.

The landlocked country in northwest Africa has been beset by extremist violence in recent months as Islamist terror groups expand their reach.

Despite worldwide efforts to create a transnational anti-jihadist military operation, named the G5 Sahel force, the situation is getting worse.

The growing boldness of jihadist fighters in the former French colony reflects the government's apparent inability to protect its citizens.

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