Gunmen kill six during Catholic mass in Burkina Faso

Up to 30 men carried out the attack

They then set the church and nearby buildings on fire.

The attack comes two days after four hostages were released in northern Burkina Faso.

Mr Zongo added: "They burned down the church, then shops and a small restaurant before going to the health centre where they searched the premises and set fire to the head nurse's vehicle. Shops and stores are closed", he told AFP. "It's practically a ghost town", he added.

Two French special forces lost their lives in the raid, killing four kidnappers and rescuing all four hostages. In that message, Macron also identified the rescued hostages as French tourists Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas - who were abducted May 1 in Benin.

The other two hostages from the USA and South Korean have not been named.

Merkel pledged millions in financial support for the restive Sahel region shortly after meeting with Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in the capital, Ouagadougou. Over 350 people have been killed in the raids which have been attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the Ansarul Islam group.

Almost 400 people have been killed since 2015 - mainly in hit-and-run raids - according to an AFP tally.

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According to security sources, the jihadists do not consider certain Muslim clerics sufficiently radical and sometimes accuse them of having collaborated with the authorities.

Another attack on a Christian church in the region last month after Sunday services left six dead, including a pastor.

Religious leaders are not the only people targeted by the extremists.

Intelligence agencies tracked their captors across the semi-desert terrain of eastern Burkina Faso, where it appeared they would soon cross the border into Mali.

A map showing where the two attacks took place.

But violence has only worsened since.

Guterres "urges all citizens of Burkina Faso to stand firmly with one another across communities and not to succumb to efforts to sow discord and breed further violence".

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