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Burkina Faso’s army massacred 223 villagers in revenge attack – HRW

More than 220 civilians, including at least 56 children, were massacred by Burkina Faso’s military in one day this year, according to Human Rights Watch.

In the attacks on February 25, the army killed 179 people in the village of Soro and 44 others in the nearby village of Nondin, an HRW investigation found.

HRW called the massacres “one of the worst incidents of military abuse in the country in almost a decade.

Burkinabè authorities have not commented on the report.

Last month, prosecutor Aly Benjamin Coulibaly called witnesses to identify the group behind the mass killings. He estimated the preliminary death toll at 170.

Villagers who survived the attack told HRW that a military convoy with more than 100 soldiers reached the village of Nondin about 30 minutes after Islamist fighters passed nearby.

The soldiers went from door to door and chased the residents from their homes.

“They then rounded up villagers in groups before opening fire on them,” the report added, citing testimonies and survivors.

They arrived an hour later in Soro, about 5 km away, where they also gathered and shot at villagers, the survivors added.

In both villages, soldiers also shot at those who tried to hide or escape, witnesses said.

The massacres are believed to be retaliation by the army, which accused the villagers of aiding armed Islamist fighters.

They followed an attack by Islamist fighters on a nearby military camp in the northern province of Yatenga.

A survivor said that before the shooting, soldiers accused residents of not cooperating with them by not informing them of the Islamist fighters’ movements.

“The massacres in the villages of Nondin and Soro are just the latest mass killings of civilians by the Burkina Faso military during their counter-insurgency operations,” said Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

The Sahel country is ruled by a military junta, which seized power in a coup in 2022 and promised to end the insurgency.

However, violence has continued to escalate and more than a third of Burkina Faso is controlled by jihadist groups.

International and human rights groups, including the European Union and the UN, have accused Burkina Faso of serious human rights violations in the fight against the insurgents, including the arbitrary killings and enforced disappearances of dozens of civilians.

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