Monday, June 24, 2024

Burkina Faso rejects village massacre accusation by HRW

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Burkina Faso has rejected claims by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that soldiers carried out execution of villagers in the northern part of the country.

Human Rights Watch said in its report that the Burkinabe army carried out the alleged execution of 223 people in those two villages.

Citing telephone interviews with witnesses, civil society and others, the HRW report on Thursday accused the military of executing residents of Nodin and Soro, including at least 56 children.

It said the action was part of a campaign against civilians accused of collaborating with jihadist militants.

In its statement the HRW said villagers who survived the attack said that a military convoy of more than 100 soldiers descended on Nondin village, about 30 minutes after Islamist fighters passed nearby.

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But the Burkina Faso government has strongly rejected the allegations and said it is investigating the killings.

The soldiers went door-to-door, ejecting residents from their homes. “They then rounded up villagers in groups before opening fire on them,” the report added, citing witness and survivor accounts.

A government spokesperson, Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo said on Saturday that the government rejected HRW’s allegations as “peremptory” and denied that the ruling junta was unwilling to look into the alleged atrocities.

“The killings in Nodin and Soro have led to the opening of a judicial investigation,” Ouedraogo said in a late evening communique, citing a March 1 statement by a regional prosecutor.

Burkina Faso is dealing with surge in violence in the region fuelled by the decade-long fight with Islamist groups linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

This crisis has worsened since soldiers seized power in Burkina Faso and neighbouring Mali and Niger in a series of coups from 2020 to 2023.

Burkina Faso saw a severe escalation of deadly attacks in 2023, with more than 8,000 people reportedly killed.

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