Mar 13

Rights group accuses Burkina forces of ‘massacring’ 21 civilians

A human rights group has accused government forces of “massacring” at least 21 civilians in a raid on a village in northern Burkina Faso.

Children were among those killed when more than 100 hooded attackers in military fatigues descended on Toessin-Foulbe earlier this week, shooting and torturing victims, the NGO said.

All but two of the dead belonged to the Fulani minority ethnic group, the Collective Against Immunity and Stigmatisation of Communities (CISC) said.

The attack took place at around 0900 GMT on Wednesday morning, the NGO said, with “allegations of torture and extrajudicial executions of civilians”.

“The suspected perpetrators of this massacre are believed to be elements of the defence and security forces and the Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland (VDP)” the rights group said on Friday.

Set up in December 2019, the VDP is made up of civilian volunteers who are given two weeks’ military training before working alongside the army.

“The death toll was reported to be 20, including one woman and three children,” the NGO said.

“Seven women were reportedly injured and three people are missing,” it added, saying on Saturday that another man’s body had been found.

– ‘Women tortured’ –

It said “more than a hundred members of the FDS and VDP, dressed in military fatigues, all hooded and armed” entered the village on “pick-up trucks and motorbikes” before shooting the men.

“Women were tortured to make them say where the terrorists were hiding,” the NGO said.

“They were our soldiers and the VDP… They were wearing army uniforms and had a Burkina flag,” a witness who also counted “21 bodies” told AFP.

A resident said members of the village were “suspected of collaborating with armed terrorists”.

The Fulani people are often singled out because some members of the community belong to jihadist groups.

A government spokesman did not immediately respond to the accusations.

CISC called for an independent judicial inquiry.

Last month, the NGO accused the army of killing at least 25 civilians in the east of the country and called for an investigation. The government said it had launched a probe.

One of the world’s poorest nations, Burkina Faso has been battling the jihadist insurgency since it spilled over from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

More than 10,000 civilians, troops and police have been killed, according to an NGO estimate, while more than two million people have fled their homes.

Ibrahim Traore, the army captain who seized power nearly six months ago and is now acting president, has stressed his determination to fight the jihadists.


© Agence France-Presse