Twelve people arrested in Burkina Faso as suspected extremists, were found dead in the cells where they were held overnight, a local prosecutor said on Wednesday.
The prosecutor in the Eastern region said, 25 people were arrested Monday (May 11) on suspicion of being extremists in Tawalbougou, a village in the FadaN’Gourma commune.
“Twelve among them died in the same night in the cells where they were detained,” he said in a statement.
The cause of death is currently unknown. Security sources told AFP news agency it may have been asphyxiation while an investigation has been launched.
In a similar episode in July 2019, 11 people accused of drug trafficking were found dead in a cell belonging to the national police’s drugs squad.
It comes less than a month after Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it believed Burkina Faso security forces had executed 31 unarmed men in the northern town of Djibo, a few hours after arresting them in a counter-terror operation.
Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, is fighting Islamist insurgents with ties to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
More than 300 civilians have been killed by militants, according to HRW, while the government has killed several hundred for allegedly supporting them.
Most of the 12 dead men were ethnic Fulas, a group often accused of jihadist links, AFP reports. Burkina Faso’s security forces have been repeatedly accused of mistreating them.
A local human rights organisation said a Fula teacher accused of having terrorist associations was found dead in a police station in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on May 02. (Source: BBC)