(IP)- At least 15 Catholic worshipers have been killed in a Burkina Faso village when gunmen attacked a community as they gathered for mass at a church in the country’s conflict-hit northern region, church officials said.

Iran PressAfrica: Sunday’s violence in the village of Essakane was a “terrorist attack” that left 12 attendees dead at the scene, while three others died later as they were being treated for their wounds, according to a statement issued by Abbot Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, vicar-general of the Catholic Diocese of Dori, where the attack happened.

He said two others were injured in the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting.

“In this painful circumstance, we invite you to pray for the rest in God for those who have died in faith, for the healing of the wounded and … for the conversion of those who continue to sow death and desolation in our country,” Sawadogo said in a statement.

The shooting took place in a region where armed groups have carried out several attacks, some of which have targeted Christian churches while others have involved the abduction of clergy.

About half of Burkina Faso is outside government control, as armed groups have ravaged the country for years. Fighters have killed thousands and displaced more than two million people, further threatening the stability of the nation, which experienced two coups in 2022.


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Iran lambastes terrorist attack in Burkina Faso