Burkina Faso: The army accused of the massacre of 223 civilians

The NGO Human Rights Watch documented two attacks.

Two months ago, on February 25, 2024, the Burkinabe army allegedly killed 223 civilians (including at least 56 children) in two villages in the north of the country, in the province of Yatenga, according to an investigation conducted by the NGO Human Rights Watch, which calls on the country's authorities to carry out an urgent and independent investigation with the support of the African Union and the United Nations to shed full light on this massacre.

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To support this accusation, members of the NGO spoke by telephone with witnesses to the massacres, local civil society activists and members of international organizations.


Witnesses who survived the massacres perpetrated on February 25 by soldiers in the villages of Soro and Nondin explain that they believe they were targeted because they were suspected of collaboration with jihadists who had carried out a raid a few hours earlier, against a military camp in Ouahigouya, the provincial capital. “Before opening fire, the soldiers accused us of being accomplices of the jihadists”, explains a 32-year-old woman who survived the massacre but was shot in the legs in the village of Soro. “They criticized us for not collaborating with the army because we had not informed them of the movements of the jihadists”continues this witness.

All the testimonies collected evoke the same pattern. The jihadists, after their attack, fled north towards the Malian border. The Ouahigouya camp is located about twenty kilometers south of the two villages of Soro and Nondin; separated from each other by 5 kilometers. Thirty minutes after the passage of the jihadist convoy, the soldiers arrived in the two villages. They called on residents to come together before opening fire. “They had no mercy,” explains a 60-year-old farmer interviewed by HRW who managed to hide at home. “They shot at everything that moved. They killed women, men, children, without distinction. Some soldiers had their faces masked. They were heavily armed. I saw a soldier interrogate a woman before executing her at point blank range.

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For Tirana Hassan, executive director of the NGO, “the massacres which occurred in Nondin and Soro are only the latest mass killings of civilians perpetrated by Burkinabé soldiers as part of their anti-terrorism operations”.

International and local NGOs regularly point to the responsibility of the Burkinabé security forces in abuses or killings committed against civilians accused of collaborating with armed groups.

The military coup of September 30, 2022, which brought to power a junta led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré, made the return of peace its hobby horse but, so far, its record is as meager as that of the last civilian powers in the face of the offensives of the jihadists who occupy a significant part of the national territory.

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