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Burkina Faso church attack

Senior Consultant Security & Intelligence Services

Burkina Faso church attack

The Month of May has been dangerous for the Faithful in the West African Nation of Burkina Faso. Twice this month there have been attacks on Churches. The most recent attack resulted in the death of the Priest and other Parishioners and the destruction of the Church itself.

These incidents have been noticed by both the Vatican and the United Nations and properly condemned. As with most incidents there is always an interesting backstory regarding these incidents.

How did Burkina end up being a target? One of the easiest ways to answer this question is by remembering that if a country has a border on a country facing internal turmoil then it is only a matter of time before said issues cross the border. On May 13th the country saw fit to amend its Emergency Powers legislation to deal with this emerging threat.

The issues currently affecting the situation within Burkina Faso are the insurgencies that have have plagued Mali since the  2012 coup which led to civil war and the one that recently risen up in Niger over the last couple of years. All three nations have another thing in common.

All three nations have close relations with France. It is in this context where we may find a motive for the recent attacks in Burkina Faso. The world was caught by surprise when the Islamic State released a video that was from their leader Al-Baghdadi. During this video he called for attacks against the “Crusader France and its allies.” If this is to be taken at face value it is clear that a receptive audience was found in Burkina Faso.

It appears that the attack on May 12th appears to be a catalyst for other attacks in the region. Also during this week an ambush took place in Niger that killed 27 soldiers. What should be concerning to analysts is that this attack was in the same general area where four US Special Forces were killed two years ago. This incident is still creating controversy in Washington to this very day and has impacted to what level the United States will interact with the region will be.

The question of whether or not this is a new trend in a region full of turmoil or the launch of a new effort to locate a base for the Islamic State has yet to be determined. Yet again IS has been attempting to telegraph a move and few people in the West have paid any attention to these threats.

There have been efforts to improve the security of Burkina Faso. On March 1st of this year, the country entered into a State Partnership Agreement with the United States. As this pact deals exclusively with Terrorism it is a critical first step that the Administration is undertaking to assist the Burkina Faso Government.