Burkina Faso: Jihadis Massacre More Than 100 Civilians

Displaced people in Burkina Faso (file photo).

Islamists in the West African state have killed scores of civilians and set fire to their homes and businesses, according to the government.

Islamist fighters murdered at least 114 civilians in the West African country of Burkina Faso, the government said on Saturday.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore called the attacks "barbaric" and "despicable."

The massacre occurred on Friday night near the borders with Mali and Niger, where Islamist fighters linked to Al-Qaida and the "Islamic State" (IS) armed group -- whom Kabore called "obscurantist forces" -- have targeted civilians and soldiers.

They were the deadliest such crimes since the Islamist violence broke out in the region in 2015.

News agency AFP quoted local sources who said jihadis first attacked a position held by the civilian defense force in Solhan village, in the Sahel's Yagha province. They then attacked homes and "executed" individuals.

The civilian force was created in December 2019 to assist Burkina Faso military forces in the fight against jihadis, however, they receive little training and have suffered more than 200 fatalities while accompanying security forces.

'Heavy human toll' on Sahel countries

A Burkina Faso government statement on the Solhan attack read: "In addition to the heavy human toll, the worst recorded to date, homes and the market were set on fire." Another security source said the "still temporary toll of a hundred dead may increase."

Security forces have been deployed to secure the area in order to remove and bury bodies and authorities have declared three days of national mourning.

Solhan has been the target of numerous attacks in recent years.

Burkina Faso has grappled with an increase in deadly jihadi attacks since 2015.

Originally centered in the north of the Sahel country, near Mali, these have been carried out by Al-Qaida and outfits such as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

It is estimated that some 1,400 people have been killed and more than a million have fled their homes as a result of the fighting.

js/mm (AFP, dpa)

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