Burkina Faso
© Reuters / Luc Gnago
FILE PHOTO: Soldiers from Burkina Faso patrol on the road of Gorgadji in the Sahel area of Burkina Faso.
A Protestant church has been attacked by unidentified gunmen in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, according to media reports citing security sources. Some 14 people are feared dead in the wake of the massacre.

The incident reportedly occurred in the commune of Hantoukoura, located in the east of the country close to its border with Niger, late on Sunday, yet there's no official word on it.

The church was attacked by unknown assailants while a congregation attended a service. The assault left 10 to 14 people dead, according to various media reports.

Africa's Maghreb and Sahel regions have been enduring an Islamist insurgency for nearly two decades already. The situation in Burkina Faso began rapidly deteriorating about four years ago, as violence spilled over from the neighboring states. It has stirred up ethnic and religious tensions across the country, especially in its northern regions bordering Mali.

2019 has been particularly violent, with a surge in terrorist attacks and sectarian violence. The majority of attacks in Burkina Faso have been attributed to the Ansar-ul-Islam and JNIM (Group in Support of Islam and Muslims) militant jihadist groups. The Islamists have previously targeted Christians, as well as Muslims who are considered not hardline enough.