Salesian, Customs Officials killed in jihadist attack

Matters India reporter

Burkina Faso, Feb. 16, 2019: Salesian missionary Fr Antonio Cesar Fernandez was shot dead on 15 February, probably by Jihadists, near the border between Togo and Burkina Faso. Fr Cesar hailing from Spain had spent some 50 years in Africa as a missionary.

The Salesian Province Mary Help of Christians reported “with deep sorrow” of the murder stating, “The tragic event occurred after 3:00 pm on Friday, 15 February after being shot three times during a jihadist attack perpetrated forty kilometers from the southern border of Burkina Faso.”

Fr Cesar “was returning to his community in Ouagadougou along with two other religious who survived the assault, after celebrating Eucharist in Lomé (Togo), at the inaugural session of the Provincial Chapter of the Salesian Province of Francophone West Africa (AFO).“

Agency reports quoting local sources add that four customs officers were also killed during the attack by alleged jihadists.

A Burkina security source added that a mobile customs unit “that had set up a control point in Nohao (near the border with Togo) was the target of a terrorist attack on Friday around 17h00” local time and GMT.

On Saturday the toll stood at four customs officers killed along with the 72-year-old Spanish priest.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed Saturday on Twitter “all my affection for the family and colleagues of missionary Antonio Cesar Fernandez and all the victims of the terror attack in Burkina Faso”.

A local security source said the attack was carried out by “a group of around 20 gunmen who then fled into a wooded zone”.

Burkina Faso, in the heart of Africa’s vast Sahel region, is struggling with a bloody Islamist insurgency as well as bouts of social unrest.

More than 300 people have been killed in the country in four years of jihadist attacks, according to an AFP count.

Antonio César Fernández, born in Pozoblanco on July 7, 1946, was a missionary in various countries of Africa since 1982, being the founder in that year of the Salesian presence in Togo, being his first destination.

Throughout his career he worked as director of novices (1988 – 1998) and served, among other functions, as a delegate of the AFO in the General Chapter 25 (2002).

Fr Cesar, 72 years, was currently ministering in Burkina Faso and had served 55 years as a Salesian and 46 as a priest.

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