Twenty-four people were murdered at a Christian church in Burkina Faso, in West Africa on Sunday, Feb. 16, and it’s said that armed terrorists were the perpetrators.

The victims included the pastor of the church. Approximately a dozen more were injured and an undisclosed number of people were kidnapped.

A group of “armed terrorists” entered Pansi in Yagha Province and “attacked the peaceful local population, after having identified them and separated them from nonresidents,” Col. Salfo Kabore, the regional governor said.

Vatican News reported the perpetrators looted oil and rice from shops and forced the three youth they kidnapped to help transport their loot on their motorbikes.

A resident of the nearby town of Sebba said Pansi villagers had fled for safety.

“It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, which comes as jihadist groups with links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) seek to gain control over once peaceful rural Burkina Faso, fueling ethnic and religious conflict,” Reuters reported. “The timing of the shooting, during a church service in the village of Pansi in the Yagha region, mirrors that of other attacks on Christians in the past year, including church attacks and assassinations of pastors and priests.”

Christians have become frequent targets in the north of the country. The past week has seen an escalation of attacks against religious leaders in the area. Last week, also in Yagha Province, a retired pastor was killed and aid workers reported the abduction of another pastor.

In December, suspected Islamic terrorists killed 14 Christians in an attack on a church during a service.

Burkina Faso is just one of the countries that are dangerous for Christians. In China, Christian persecution is “at near genocide levels.” 

Last year, the Chinese Communist Party was intensifying religious persecution as Christianity’s popularity grows. The government closed churches, jailed pastors, and even rewrote scripture. 

“The government has orchestrated a campaign to ‘Sinicize’ Christianity, to turn Christianity into a fully domesticated religion that would do the bidding of the Party,” said Lian Xi, a professor at Duke University in North Carolina, who focuses on Christianity in modern China.

A statement signed by 500 house church leaders in November said authorities removed crosses from buildings, forced churches to hang the Chinese flag and sing patriotic songs, and barred minors from attending.

“The goal of the crackdown is not to eradicate religions,” said Ying Fuk Tsang, director of the Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “President Xi Jinping is trying to establish a new order on religion, suppressing its blistering development. [The government] aims to regulate the ‘religious market’ as a whole.”

While the CCP is officially atheist, Protestantism and Catholicism are two of five faiths sanctioned by the government and religious freedom has been enshrined in the constitution since the 1980s. For decades, authorities tolerated the house churches, which refused to register with government bodies that required church leaders to adapt teachings to follow party doctrine, according to The Guardian

Christians, however, are only among faith groups that are sanctioned by the government, including Falun Dafa, Tibetan, Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

The CCP, has not learned from the collapse of the Roman Empire for its persecution of Christians in A.D. 64 under Nero and the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313.

 As of Tuesday, a total of more than 72,400 coronavirus cases have been reported with the death toll jumping to 1,770 in mainland China, the vast majority in Hubei Province at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Dr. Li Wenliang, the director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, died at 10:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Feb. 18, after he fell critically ill with the coronavirus. 

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