Extremists slaughter dozens in Burkina Faso village

“It happened early this morning when some people were still in their homes. Dozens of men burst into the village and set houses on fire, while others stood watch and shot at people indiscriminately” said an official.
Wednesday 05/05/2021
A file picture shows Burkinabe soldiers patrolling near the Presidental Security Regiment (RSP) military barracks in Ouagadougou. (AFP)
A file picture shows Burkinabe soldiers patrolling near the Presidental Security Regiment (RSP) military barracks in Ouagadougou. (AFP)

OUAGADOUGOU - Extremists are suspected to have murdered at least 30 people in an assault on Monday in eastern Burkina Faso, local and security sources said, in what would be one of the worst such attacks in the country’s history.

“A large number of armed individuals attacked the village of Kodyel in the district of Foutouri this morning, causing several dozen deaths in the civilian population,” a regional security source explained to AFP.

The attack occurred  near the border with Niger, government official Labidi Ouoba told the Associated Press by phone after fleeing the attack.

Jihadists surrounded the village and went from house to house setting fire to them and killing people, said Ouoba.

“I ran early because the terrorists usually look for authorities. We all pray that peace comes back now in our country. We are tired” he said.

Another resident, Mediempo Tandamba, who fled Monday’s attack, said approximately 100 Islamic extremists entered the town on motorcycles, tricycles and pick up trucks. Four of his brother’s children were killed.

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“We are very afraid here today,” said Tandamba.

An official from a local self-defence group confirmed the attack, saying that at least “20 to 30” people had been killed.

“It happened early this morning when some people were still in their homes. Dozens of men burst into the village and set houses on fire, while others stood watch and shot at people indiscriminately.”

Another member of the VDP civil defence militia in Foutouri district also estimated “around 30 dead, men and women”, although “the toll remains provisional, because everyone fled the village”.

As well as the dead, “around twenty people were injured, several of them seriously,” the second volunteer added, complaining that their reports of militants in the area and threats against the villagers had been ignored.

But the security source said that “operations to secure the population and track down these individuals were launched as soon as the volunteers raised the alarm”.

Estimates of the number killed would make Monday’s attack one of the deadliest ever in Burkina Faso.

There is however confusion because some reports speak of an attack on a village called  Hantoukoura  near the Niger border within Est region, an area already hit by rising insecurity as jihadist groups with links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State seek to gain control over once peaceful territories.

The  Est governor Saidou Sanou put out a statement saying that more than ten civilians and two members of a civilian defence militia were killed by the unidentified attackers, who also torched a number of shops and ransacked the health centre.  It is not yet clear if there have in fact been two separate terror assaults.

In any event, this latest savagery comes just a week after three Europeans, two Spanish journalists and an Irish wildlife activist, were executed in an ambush against an anti-poaching patrol.

A poor country in western Africa, Burkina Faso has like its neighbours Mali and Niger suffered jihadist attacks since 2015.

Among the deadliest in recent years was attack on New Year’s Day 2019 in northern Burkina, when at least 50 people were killed in inter-communal violence that broke out after unidentified attackers killed six including a village chief.

In November that year, 37 were killed and 60 wounded in an ambush against a convoy of workers for a Canadian mining company in the east.