Islamist militias kill at least 100 civilians in Burkina Faso


Suspected jihadists killed at least 100 people in a northern Burkina Faso village, the government said on Saturday, in the deadliest attacks the country has seen in years.

The attack took place Friday evening in Solhan in the Sahel’s Yagha province near the border with Mali and Niger, government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura said in a statement.

Blaming Islamic militants, Tamboura said a local market and several homes were also burned down in the area toward the border of Niger.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore called the attack “barbaric.”

This is the deadliest attack recorded in Burkina Faso since the West African country was overrun by jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State about five years ago, said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

“It is clear that militant groups have shifted up gears to aggravate the situation in Burkina Faso, and moved their efforts to areas outside the immediate reach of the French-led counter-terrorism coalition fighting them in the tri-state border region,” he said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Despite the presence of more than 5,000 French troops in the Sahel, jihadist violence is increasing. In one week in April, more than 50 people were killed in Burkina Faso, including two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist. More than 1 million people in the country have been internally displaced.

The government has declared 72 hours of mourning.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was outraged by the killings and offered the world body’s full support to authorities in their efforts to overcome the threats to the peace and stability in Burkina Faso according to his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

“He strongly condemns the heinous attack and underscores the urgent need for the international community to redouble support to Member States in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human toll,” Dujarric said in a statement.

Islamic extremists have been increasingly staging assaults in Burkina Faso, especially in the region that borders Niger and Mali.

Last month, gunmen killed at least 30 people in eastern Burkina Faso near the border with Niger.

Burkina Faso’s ill-equipped army has been struggling to contain the spread of jihadists. The government enlisted the help of volunteer fighters last year to help the army, but the volunteers have incurred retaliation by extremists who target them and the communities they help.

Mali also is experiencing a political crisis that has led to the suspension of international support. France has said it is ceasing joint military operations with Malian forces until the West African nation’s junta complies with international demands to restore civilian rule. (Source: Mainichi Japan)