Burkina Faso forces killed 31 unarmed men

OUAHIGOUYA, BURKINA FASO (AP) — Burkina Faso’s security forces reportedly killed 31 unarmed men in the country’s north earlier this month, according to a report on Monday by Human Rights Watch.

The killings occurred on April 9, hours after the men were detained during a government counterterrorism operation in the town of Djibo in the Sahel region, the report said.

The West African nation continues to be wracked by violence linked to extremists and local defence militias, which has displaced nearly 840,000 people within Burkina Faso.

The country’s ill-equipped military has been previously accused by rights groups of committing human rights atrocities in an attempt to combat the violence. Since 2017, Human Rights Watch has documented the killing of several hundred men by government security forces for their alleged support of extremist groups.

“This is hardly an isolated incident. The Burkinabe security forces face a real and serious threat as armed extremists murder civilians and terrorise the population,” West Africa Director for Human Rights Watch Corinne Dufka told the AP.

“But committing atrocities in the name of security is both unlawful and deeply counterproductive, for it only pushes more and more people seeking revenge into the ranks of the armed extremists.”

The report’s writers interviewed 17 people with knowledge of the killings and found that all of the victims were ethnic Fulani.

The Fulani have been increasingly targetted by the military and local defence militias for their alleged affiliation with extremists groups.

Daouda Diallo, head of a Fulani rights group in Burkina Faso, said that attacks have increased significantly, from 20 per month last year to 20 per week this year. In March, armed men murdered at least 43 people in two villages in Yatenga province known to be largely populated by Fulani.

Children of around 6,000 ethnic Fulanis who have been displaced by attacks, gather in a makeshift camp for the displaced in Youba in Yatenga province in Burkina Faso. PHOTO: AP