The details of the cold-blooded executions of a pastor and five of his congregation by Islamist militants in Burkina Faso have been revealed by an eyewitness.
The pastor, a father-of-seven, and his congregation were rounded up in the courtyard of the church in the small northern town of Silgadji on Sunday 28 April by twelve gunmen riding motorcycles.
The attackers demanded that the victims deny their Christian faith and convert to Islam, but they refused, said a worshipper who was present.
The Christians were ordered to stand under a tree, while the militants collected up Bibles and laptops. The Islamist gang then called the Christians one-by-one to go behind a building where they were shot in cold blood.
The pastor, his son and his brother-in-law, a primary school teacher and two others were murdered. A seventh Christian was seriously injured but is expected to survive.
The attackers then set fire to the pulpit and two motorcycles before stealing the pastor’s sheep and a bag of rice, the source said.
The murdered pastor’s son-in-law said the pastor had experienced a “vision” and that he felt he was in “imminent danger”. But the pastor preferred to “die for his faith rather than leave the village where he has served for nearly 40 years,” said the son-in-law.
All local religious communities, including Muslims, gathered to bury the victims.
There are conflicting reports as to whether two other members of the congregation were kidnapped.
According to local sources, the terrorists returned on 29 April in search of more Christians. Barnabas contacts report that, after the killings, Islamist threats against pastors and other Christians have continued causing many to flee the area.
Another source said that he believed the aim of the Islamists was to shut down all churches and schools.
From Barnabas Fund contacts