By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Terrified residents have fled areas in northern Burkina Faso after suspected Islamist militants killed 15 Christian converts at a baptism service, authorities and Christians say.
The May 18 massacre shook Adjarara, about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the town of Tin-Akoff in Oudalan province, near the border with Mali, said the governor of Burkina Faso's Sahel region. The attackers also torched the village and caused injury to a surviving man, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
“Fifteen of our brothers and sisters [in Christ] were killed. Somebody needs to be paying attention to this,” said Todd Nettleton of the Voice Of the Martyrs USA advocacy group.
It was the fourth reported attack against civilians this month in the area, raising doubts about secret talks on a peace deal between the government and jihadis, several sources explained.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but aid workers blamed fighters of the militant Islamic State group. The governor, Colonel Major Salfo Kabore, offered his condolences to the families and urged people to report any suspicious movements to the army.
Violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State groups left thousands dead in the West African nation over the last several years. The latest anti-Christian violence came as attacks spiked in Burkina Faso's Sahel region and the country's east in recent weeks.
In one of the bloodiest atrocities this month, suspected Islamist militants killed around 30 people in an attack in eastern Burkina Faso, security sources said. The May 3 violence by a large group of armed men in the village of Kodyel in Komandjari province was the worst such attack in the country's history.
Two mass killings came after two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist were among more than 50 people killed during one week in April.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called the deaths of the Spanish "The worst news” and said, “All of our affection for the families.”
Sánchez identified them as David Beriain and Roberto Fraile. The Irish citizen was later identified as Rory Young, the co-founder and CEO of Chengeta Wildlife, wildlife protection, and anti-poaching charity.
Also, this month at least one person was killed and two gravely wounded in a separate incident when a military vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Tialbonga, in eastern Burkina Faso, reports said. The attacks displaced more than 1 million people in recent years, including thousands this month, according to aid groups.
Aid workers say it's also brought tens of thousands, including Christians, to the brink of starvation by disrupting aid operations to those in need. Christian rights activists said the surviving injured victims and others had their properties destroyed in Islamist attacks and face the risk of future violence.
Advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada said it had urged its supporters to pray for those “who lost their loved ones” and for justice amid ongoing Islamist attacks in the Muslim-majority nation.