Tension as jihadists slaughter male residents in two Nigerien settlements

Tension as jihadists slaughter male residents in two Nigerien settlements
A stock image of women and children in Niger (© Aid to the Church in Need)

Suspected jihadists have reportedly killed all the male inhabitants and destroyed three Catholic Churches in Fantio and Dolbel, two towns in the Tillabéri region in the southwest of Niger Republic.

Survivors of the attack, a group of women, with small children and babies were said to have fled to the Dori region of Burkina Faso.

A Catholic aid organisation for war refugees founded in 1947, Aid To The Church In Need (ACN), confirmed the killing on its official website.

ACN quoted the women as saying the terrorists attacked the towns twice, killing all the men.

The two towns were abandoned by the rest of the inhabitants.

In Fantio, the jihadists took a statue of the Virgin Mary, liturgical books and musical instruments and burned them.

They then desecrated the Blessed Sacrament by throwing the sacred hosts on the ground and finally setting the church on fire.

Eyewitnesses said that this is the third parish in this part of Niger that has been abandoned due to terrorist attacks and incursions by extremist groups.

Survivors of the attacks fled to Niamey, the capital, to seek refuge in the parish of Téra, or cross the border into the Diocese of Dori in Burkina Faso.

Islamist terrorist groups began to extend their reach into Burkina Faso and Niger in 2015.

According to ACN's Religious Freedom in the World Report 2021, the area has become one of the hotspots for militant jihadism in Africa.

In the meantime, the number of internally displaced persons in Burkina Faso has rises to about one million.

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