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Burkina Faso military forces accused of ‘massacring 223 civilians, including 56 children’ | World News

Burkina Faso’s military forces have been accused of massacring 223 civilians – including babies – in attacks on two villages.

The mass killings allegedly took place on February 25 in the conflict-torn northern West. African nation, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Among the dead were some 56 children, according to a new report published by the human rights witness group, which collected testimonies and verified videos and photographs of the attacks.

Witnesses and survivors told HRW they believed the killings were carried out in retaliation for an attack by Islamist fighters on a military camp near Ouahigouya, about 15 miles away.

The alleged murders took place in two villages in Yatenga province in northern Burkina Faso.
The alleged murders took place in two villages in Yatenga province in northern Burkina Faso.

A spokesman for the country’s military junta, which has been struggling to beat back a growing jihadist insurgency, did not respond to Associated Press (AP) requests for comment on the attack.

Authorities have previously denied killing civilians and say jihadist fighters often disguise themselves as soldiers.

The once peaceful one Burkina Faso In recent years, the country has been mired in a conflict that has pitted jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group against state-backed forces.

Both sides have been accused of attacking civilians caught in the middle, displacing more than two million people, more than half of whom are children.

The country experienced two coups in 2022, with the military junta taking power in September 2022. Captain Ibrahim Traore, who led the coup, is the current president of the country.

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Burkina Faso President Ibrahim Traoré in St. Petersburg this year
Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Burkina Faso President Ibrahim Traore met in St. Petersburg in July last year. Photo: Reuters

“International assistance is critical”

HRW has called on the United Nations and the supranational organization African Union to conduct investigations and support local efforts to bring those responsible for the February 25 attacks to justice.

The human rights group claims the killings took place in the villages of Nondin and Soro, in Thiou district, Yatenga province.

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“The massacres in the villages of Nondin and Soro are just the latest mass killings of civilians committed by the Burkina Faso military in its counterinsurgency operations,” said Human Rights Watch Executive Director Tirana Hassan.

“International assistance is essential to support a credible investigation into possible crimes against humanity.”

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More than 20,000 people have been killed in Burkina Faso since jihadist violence first hit the West African nation nine years ago, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

About half of Burkina Faso’s territory remains outside government control.

Frustrated by the lack of progress after years of Western military assistance, the junta has turned to Russia for security support.

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