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Gunmen kill six during Catholic mass in Burkina Faso

AFP  |  Ouagadougou 

Gunmen killed a and five churchgoers during mass Sunday in an attack on a in Dablo, northern Burkina Faso, security sources and a said.

"Towards 9.00 am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic church," the of Dablo, Ousmane Zongo, told AFP. "They started firing as the congregation tried to flee."

The attackers -- between 20 and 30 according to a security source -- managed to trap some of the worshippers, Zongo added.

"They killed five of them. The priest, who was celebrating mass, was also killed, bringing the number of dead to six." The gunmen then set fire to the church, several shops and a small cafe before heading to the local health centre, which they looted, burning the chief nurse's vehicle.

"There is an atmosphere of panic in the town," said Zongo.

"People are holed up in their homes, nothing is going on. The shops and stores are closed. It's practically a ghost town," he added.

Security reinforcements were sent from Barsalogho, about 45 kilometres (30 miles) south of Dablo, and were combing the area, a security source told AFP.

The attack came two days after French special forces freed four foreign hostages in the north of the country in an overnight raid that cost the lives of two soldiers.

The operation was ordered to free French hostages and who disappeared while on holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park in on May 1.

The team also found two other female captives, an American woman and a South Korean.

Sunday's church strike came two weeks after a similar attack against a in Silgadji, also in the north, when gunmen on motorbikes killed a pastor and several worshippers.

has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater

Nearly 400 people have been killed since 2015 -- mainly in hit-and-run raids -- according to an AFP tally.

Jihadist groups target both Muslim and Christian clerics, mainly in the north.

Former colonial ruler has deployed some 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, and in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help local forces try to flush out jihadist groups.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 12 2019. 21:21 IST