At least 132 civilians, including seven children, were killed in two armed attacks in northern Burkina Faso between Friday evening (4) and early Saturday morning (5), in the bloodiest incidents recorded since the start of Islamist violence in the country in 2015.
The attacks took place in the so-called “three borders” area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, regularly the target of deadly attacks by extremists linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State against civilians. and the military.
“On the night of Friday to Saturday, armed individuals carried out a deadly incursion in Solhan, in Yagha province,” a security source told AFP.
“Several wounded eventually died and new bodies were found. The toll, although provisional, was 138 dead, “said a local deputy on Saturday evening, who said” the bodies were buried in mass graves. There were also dozens of injured.
In a statement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “outraged” by the massacre, as his spokesman reported on Saturday.
“The secretary-general is outraged by the murder earlier today of more than 100 civilians, including seven children, in an attack by unidentified assailants on a village in Yagha province, in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, “Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement.
According to a local source, the attack, which began around 2 a.m. (11 p.m. Friday, Brasilia time), initially targeted a Volunteer in Defense of the Homeland post, the VDP, for civilian support. to the army, and “then the aggressors went to the inhabitants, who were executed”.
“In addition to the heavy human toll, the worst we have seen to date, houses and the market (in Solhan) were set on fire,” said another security source, who expressed concern that “the balance, which is still provisional, will increase “.
A 72-hour national mourning has been decreed by the authorities, from this Saturday at midnight to Monday (7) at 11.59 p.m., according to the government.
Sohlan, a small town located about fifteen kilometers from Sebba, the capital of Yagha province, not far from the border with Mali, has experienced several attacks in recent years.
On May 14, Defense Minister Chérif Sy and members of the military hierarchy went to Sebba and assured that the situation had returned to normal, after numerous military operations.
This latest bloody attack by suspected Islamist extremists was carried out shortly after another, also on Friday evening, in a village in the same region, Tadaryat, in which at least 14 people, including a member of the VDP, were killed.
The attacks come a week after two other acts of violence in the same area, in which four people, including two members of the VDP, were killed.
On May 17 and 18, 15 residents and a soldier were killed in two attacks on a village and a patrol in the northeast of the country, according to the governor of the region.
Since May 5, faced with the resurgence of Islamic terrorist violence, the armed forces have launched a large-scale operation in the northern and Sahel regions.
Over the course of Saturday, lines of people fled to Sebba, a local MP reported on condition of anonymity.
“These displacements also made victims because three people died on the axis Solhan-Sebba, when the cart which transported them exploded while passing over an artisanal mine.
Despite reports of numerous such operations, security forces are struggling to contain the spiral of violence, which has left more than 1,400 dead and more than a million homeless since 2015.