The government stated that gunmen killed at least 132 people in Burkina Faso’s turbulent north. The UN Secretary-General condemned “heinous attacks” and called on countries to step up efforts to combat “violent extremism.”
The attackers attacked on Friday night, killing residents of Solhan village in Jakarta, which borders Niger. According to a government statement on Saturday, they also burned down houses and village markets.
The victims included seven children.
Government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura told reporters that 40 other residents were also injured.
President Roque Marc Christian Kabor called the killings “barbaric” and stated that the people of Burkina Faso “must stand united and resolutely oppose these obscurant forces.”
So far, no organization has claimed responsibility for this.
The night attack was the deadliest attack recorded in Burkina Faso in many years.
Since 2015, the West African country has been working hard to counter increasingly frequent and deadly attacks from groups associated with Al-Qaida and recently groups associated with ISIL. The attack first occurred in the north near the Mali border, but later spread to other areas, especially the east, causing one of the world’s most serious humanitarian crises.
Approximately 1.2 million people in Burkina Faso have been forced to flee their homes due to prolonged conflict. Although thousands of French and other international and regional forces are stationed in the Sahel, armed groups have increased their attacks on the military and civilians Strength.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stated that he was “angry” over the killings in Burkina Faso and expressed “full support” to the country.
Guterres “strongly condemned the heinous attacks and emphasized the urgent need for the international community to redouble its support for Member States in combating violent extremism and the unacceptable casualties caused by it,” his spokesman Stephen Dujarric said in a statement. The statement said.
Burkina Faso has now declared 72 hours of national mourning.
In Sol Khan, a local source told AFP that the attackers stayed at the Volunteer Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) position at approximately 2:00 a.m. (02:00 GMT). This is a support Civil Defense Forces of the National Army.
The source said that they subsequently attacked the house and carried out “executions.”
According to statistics from Agence France-Presse, VDP was established in December 2019 to help Burkina Faso’s poorly equipped armed groups carry out military strikes, but it has caused more than 200 deaths. Volunteers received only two weeks of military training before being deployed to work in the security forces. They usually perform surveillance, information gathering or escort tasks.
Human Rights Watch West Africa director Corrine Dufka said the Sol Khan attack followed familiar patterns seen in other parts of the Sahel this year.
“The dynamic is [armed groups] When they came in, they overwhelmed the civil defense post and punished the others in the village collectively,” Dufka said. “This is the pattern we have seen everywhere this year. “
For example, in neighbouring Niger, armed assailants killed 137 people in March. Analysts and human rights organizations say this may have been in retaliation for killings by self-defense groups in the area or arresting people suspected of belonging to armed groups.
Dufka said Friday’s attack increased the number of people killed by armed groups in the Sahel region to more than 500 since January. She added that most of the killings were carried out by fighters from the Islamic State of Greater Sahara.
More attacks may occur
According to Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, a few weeks after the Sol Khan attack, Secretary of Defense Sharif Shi and other high-level military officials visited the neighboring town of Seba to reassure people that they would proceed in the area. After many military operations, life has returned to normal.
“There is also a military camp not far from where the attack occurred,” Huck said. “But they didn’t respond. They never arrived at the scene. People in the Sahel now feel that way-they can’t rely on their security forces to protect them.”
As the security situation deteriorates, analysts say that more violent attacks may occur in Burkina Faso and neighboring countries.
“This is a terrible massacre. I’m afraid we will have to look forward to more reports of this type,” said Alex Vines, director of the Africa Project at the International Think Tank Chatham Institute.
“This is a hot spot. This is the border area of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, where very serious displacement and violence have occurred… The government is getting weaker and more ineffective. They are not providing the security that people need. Therefore, armed groups… are filling these gaps.”
Vince told Al Jazeera that the increase in violence in the Sahel has worried other West African countries.
“It’s all very serious and it’s spreading regionally. It’s not just about the Sahel,” he said. “Now there is an overflow security incident in the countries along the Gulf of Guinea. So, think about Benin, think about Togo. Ghanaians are particularly worried about what happened on their border with Burkina Faso. Ivory Coast, too. That’s right. It is increasingly becoming an international issue.”