American nun kidnapped by gunmen in Burkina Faso

Armed men have kidnapped an 83-year-old American nun in northern Burkina Faso, the bishop of the local diocese said.

“Sister Suellen Tennyson was taken to an unknown destination by her kidnappers who, before leaving, vandalised rooms (and) sabotaged the community vehicle, which they tried to take,” Kaya Bishop, Theophile Nare, said in a statement on Tuesday.

She was kidnapped on Monday night in the parish of Yalgo, part of the Kaya diocese, where she had been serving in the Catholic congregation, Marianites of Holy Cross, since 2014, the statement said.

The bishop said he did not know the identity of the kidnappers who took Tennyson.

Armed groups, some with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS)have taken over large swathes of territory in Burkina Faso and conducted frequent attacks on the army and civilians. A Canadian was found dead after a kidnapping there in 2019.

The US Embassy in Burkina Faso said in a statement that it was aware of reports of a US citizen missing and was “working diligently with local authorities to verify these reports and is monitoring the situation”.

Burkina Faso’s military government said security was its top priority and this week presented a new plan to reinforce army operations against armed groups.

Yalgo is near the province of Soum, where nearly 70 people were killed in two attacks in November, and not far from the nation of Mali, where Human Rights Watch said more than 100 civilians have been killed in recent months.

Armed fighters have killed at least eight people who were collecting water in a town in northern Burkina Faso, its mayor had said.

The incident, which occurred on Monday morning, brought the total killed in three days of violence in the restive area to more than 30.

Monday’s attack took place in Arbinda, in the province of Soum, which has suffered several deadly raids by armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS), who for years have sought to gain control over a swathe of arid terrain where Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger met.

Mayor Boureima Werem told Reuters the gunmen have been targeting water towers and pumps in recent weeks, in an apparent new tactics. –Aljazeera/Reuters

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