Gunmen killed a priest and five parishioners during mass Sunday in an attack on a Catholic church in Dablo, northern Burkina Faso, security sources and a local official said.
"Towards 9:00 am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic church," Dablo mayor 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."
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. Dablo is located in the northern province of Sanmatenga.
Condemning the "barbaric and cowardly attack", the government confirmed the toll of six killed, including a priest.
After "failing to pit communities against each other with targeted killings of traditional chiefs and community leaders, terrorist groups are now attacking religion in an evil plot to divide us", it said in a statement.
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 Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas who disappeared while on holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park in Benin on May 1.
The team also found two other female captives, an American woman and a South Korean.
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