Burkina Faso: "Massacres Are Intended to Secure Control Over Strategic Areas"

Displaced people in Burkina Faso (file photo).

Ouagadougou — "The country is in shock. Such a massacre has not occurred since 2015", say sources from the Apostolic Nunciature from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to Agenzia Fides, where in the night between 4 and 5 June at least 160 people were massacred in the village of Solhan north-east of the country.

"At the moment the news is still fragmentary", say Fides sources. "We do not know the exact number of victims, we are talking about 160 deaths, but there could be more and we do not know who committed the massacre".

"Pending more accurate information, we can only make a few considerations", continue Fides sources. "Based on an initial assessment, the country's authorities seem to believe that those who perpetrated the massacre wanted to demonstrate their ability to control the territory. The army has organized self-defense groups in the villages of the region. With these massacres, the terrorists seem to want to respond to these defense initiatives. In any case, this area is strategic because it connects Mali and Niger via Burkina Faso".

Solhan is a small town about fifteen kilometers from Sebba, the capital of Yagha Province, where there have been numerous attacks in recent years attributed to jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS). Shortly after the Solhan massacre, another massager was committed on the evening of June 4th in the village of Tadaryat, in the same region, which killed at least 14 people. On May 17 and 18, 15 civilians and one soldier were killed in two attacks on a village and a patrol in the northeast of the country.

As of June 7, the government of Burkina Faso imposed a 72-hour national mourning while the Bishops' Conference invited the country's Catholic communities to hold a moment of prayer for the victims at the end of the celebrations for Corpus Domini.

Pope Francis also recalled the massacres of civilians in Burkina Faso. After the Angelus on Sunday 6 June, the Holy Father said: "I wish to assure my prayers for the victims of the massacre carried out on the night between Friday and Saturday in a small town in Burkina Faso. I am close to their families and to the entire Burkinabé people who are suffering greatly from these repeated attacks. Africa needs peace and not violence!".

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