Burkina Faso’s military forces accused of ‘massacring 223 civilians – including 56 children’

Military forces in Burkina Faso have been accused of massacring 223 civilians – including babies – in attacks on two villages.
The mass killings allegedly took place on 25 February in the north of the conflict-torn West African nation, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Some 56 children were among the dead, according to a new report published by the human rights group, which collated witness testimony and verified videos and photographs of the attacks.
Witnesses and survivors told HRW they believed the killings were carried out in retaliation for an attack by Islamist fighters on a military camp near Ouahigouya, about 15 miles away.

Image: The alleged killings took place in two villages in the Yatenga province of northern Burkina Faso
A spokesperson for the country’s military junta, which has been struggling to beat back a growing jihadi insurgency, did not respond to requests for comment by the Associated Press (AP) about the attack.

Officials have previously denied killing civilians and say jihadi fighters often disguise themselves as soldiers.
The once peaceful Burkina Faso has in recent years been plunged into a conflict that has pitted jihadis linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group against state-backed forces.
Both sides have been accused of targetting civilians caught in the middle, displacing more than two million people – of which over half are children.
The country experienced two coups in 2022, with the country’s military junta seizing power in September 2022. Captain Ibrahim Traore, who led the coup, is the current president of the country.


Image: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Burkina Faso President Ibrahim Traore met in Saint Petersburg in July last year. Pic: Reuters
‘International assistance is critical’
HRW has called on the United Nations and the supernational organisation African Union to provide investigators and to support local efforts to bring those responsible to justice for the 25 February attacks.
The human rights group say the killings took place in the villages of Nondin and Soro, in the district of Thiou, Yatenga province.

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“The massacres in Nondin and Soro villages are just the latest mass killings of civilians by the Burkina Faso military in their counterinsurgency operations,” Human Rights Watch executive director Tirana Hassan said.
“International assistance is critical to support a credible investigation into possible crimes against humanity.”
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More than 20,000 people have been killed in Burkina Faso since jihadi violence first hit the West African nation nine years ago, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a US-based non-profit.
Around half of Burkina Faso’s territory remains outside of government control.
Frustrated with a lack of progress over years of Western military assistance, the junta has turned to Russia instead for security support.

Source : Sky News