OUAGADOUGOU: Suspected jihadists have massacred at least 114 civilians in Burkina Faso’s volatile north in the deadliest attacks since Islamist violence erupted in the west African country in 2015, officials said Saturday.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore denounced an attack near the borders with Mali and Niger where jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have been targeting civilians and soldiers.
“We must remain united and solid against these obscurantist forces,” Kabore said, condemning a massacre that left at least 100 people dead in Solhan as “barbaric” and “despicable.”
The worst attack occurred during the night of Friday to Saturday when “armed individuals staged an incursion” into Solhan, a security source said. “The toll, which is still provisional, is about about 100 dead, men and woman of different ages”, the source said with the government confirming the toll.
Assailants struck around 2:00 am (0200 GMT) against a position of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Motherland (VDP), an anti-jihadist civilian defence force which backs the national army, before attacking homes and carrying out “executions,” a local source said.
The VDP was set up in December 2019 to help Burkina’s poorly-equipped military fight jihadists but it has suffered more than 200 fatalities, according to an AFP tally. The volunteers are given two weeks’ military training, and then work alongside the security forces, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.
The government said in a statement that “terrorists,” a term for jihadists, killed civilians of all ages and set fire to homes and the main market.