A Burkina Faso rights group claims 28 people died in ethnic killings


OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Volunteer militias backing Burkina Faso’s army killed dozens of ethnic Fulani civilians, including children, in the country’s troubled west on Tuesday, a local rights group accused.

According to Daouda Diallo, executive secretary of the Collective Citizens Against Impunity and Communal Stigma, last week in the predominantly Fulani and Muslim town of Nouna, pro-military forces killed about 30 civilians. Burkina Faso’s Fulani are increasingly targeted by the army and local security forces because they are suspected of supporting extremist Islamic insurgents who have wreaked havoc in the West African nation for decades.

“They (support militias) mainly targeted skilled or influential people and able-bodied members of society, resulting in a large number of deaths,” Diallo said. According to him, the killings in Nouna were revenge attacks by volunteer fighters after jihadist attacks on their headquarters.

The government of Burkina Faso said it has launched an investigation into the killing of at least 28 people. In a statement on Monday, Armel Sama, Burkina Faso’s prosecutor, urged the public to remain calm during the investigation and said the government would arrest criminals who committed acts of “unprecedented gravity”.

Extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have killed thousands of people and displaced nearly 2 million people in Burkina Faso over the past 7 years. Lack of confidence in the government’s ability to curb extremist violence led to two coups in Burkina Faso last year.

Violence against the Fulani has increased since the country’s new junta leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, came to power in September, according to rights groups. Between October and January, Diallo’s group documented about 250 extrajudicial executions, compared with 95 in the previous four months, Diallo said.

Former junta leader Col. Paul Henry Sandaogo said there were more initiatives for dialogue between communities and jihadists under Damiba’s regime, which could have resulted in fewer killings.

The government has enlisted tens of thousands of civilian volunteers to fight alongside the army to stem jihadist violence. Both groups are accused by human rights activists of committing atrocities against civilians. Many members of the Fulani community say they fear the jihadists as much as the volunteer militias.

Burkina Faso’s government did not immediately respond to questions about the alleged abuses. In his New Year address to the nation, Traore thanked the volunteer fighters for their patriotism.

But residents in Burkina Faso accuse the volunteers of rounding up civilians and killing them.

In December, seven volunteers kidnapped a father and son from a store in Kongoussi, in the Central Nord region, resident Jacoba Diallo, who said he witnessed the abduction, told The Associated Press by phone. Diallo said the men were found dead in the woods two days later, the father with two stab wounds and the son with a knife.

As jihadist violence increases, analysts of the conflict warn that these killings will increase.

“I think we are currently witnessing a dark turning point in the Burkina Faso crisis, as the number of extrajudicial executions has clearly increased in recent weeks, and the events in Nouna are the culmination of this trend,” Heni Nsaibia said. researcher. To the Armed Conflict Location and Incident Information Project.

“There is an imminent risk of more massive atrocities committed by one of the parties to the conflict in the near future,” he said.

Mednick reported from Dakar, Senegal

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