French commandos die freeing 4 hostages in Burkina Faso

Up to 30 men carried out the attack

DABLO, Burkina Faso - Six people were killed Sunday during mass at a Catholic church in West Africa, according to state media.

"They started firing as the congregation tried to flee", he told the news agency.

The attack happened in the northern town of Dablo, not far from the volatile border with Mali, at the beginning of Mass, Radio France Internationale reported.

The militants also set on fire nearby shops and a health centre, a government official said.

"Unidentified armed individuals attacked the Silgadji Protestant Church, killing four worshippers and the senior pastor. It's practically a ghost town", he added. The hostages who were rescued, according to France, were a USA citizen, a South Korean national, and French nationals Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas.

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The attack came two days after the release of two hostages in Burkina Faso during a daring French special forces military operation that resulted in the deaths of two of their own soldiers.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned Sunday's attack and offered condolences as he cited "the sanctity of all places of worship", according to a UN spokesman.

Roughly 55 to 60 per cent of Burkina Faso's population is Muslim, with up to a quarter Christian.

The terror groups have been operating within the country since around 2015, but the deadly violence began to spike recently, leaving dozens dead in a series of attacks within the country, many on Christians.

In February, CNN reported that the USA was considering sending additional military advisers as well as intelligence and surveillance assets such as drones to Burkina Faso to help combat a growing terrorist threat. Over 350 people have been killed in the raids which have been attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the Ansarul Islam group. "They made everyone lie down, executed five before torching the church". Over 100,000 people in Burkina Faso have been displaced by the unrest this year, the United Nations has said.

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