A human rights group in Burkina Faso reported Friday that the toll from a village massacre carried out by men in army uniform was more than double the official figure of 60 dead.
Armed men dressed in the fatigues of the country’s armed forces slaughtered villagers at Karma in the jihadist-hit north on April 20, killing around 60 people, according to a local prosecutor.
Survivors and Karma residents said more than 100 died in the assault.
“Our teams have documented and registered 136 dead bodies in Karma, including 50 women and 21 children — some babies under 30 days old killed on their mothers’ backs,” the Collective against Impunity and Stigmatisation of Communities (CISC) said.
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The NGO added in its statement that the assilants also killed 11 people nearby the same day — six in Dinguiri village, two in Mene and three on the road between Ouahigouya and Barga.
CISC said at Karma, the attackers grouped civilians together by dozens and by area, “taking care to leave armed men with each group with the watchword ‘Kill everyone’,” said CISC head Daouda Diallo.
The NGO noted that the bloodbath followed a jihadist attack on April 15 that claimed the lives of 40 troops and volunteer auxiliaries in the same region.
“Survivors’ accounts say the assailants accused the Karma villagers of sheltering members of terrorist groups,” said Diallo, winner of the 2022 Martin Ennals Award, a major prize for work in human rights.
The CISC called for a full and impartial judicial inquiry “to bring all those responsible, as well as the sponsors, to court.”
Burkina’s military government on Thursday broke its silence on the Karma killings, issuing a statement condemning “barbaric acts” and urging a full inquiry.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, said in a press release on Tuesday that according to reports “at least 150 civilians” may have been killed.
Burkina Faso’s armed forces face an Islamist insurgency by groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group who swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
More than 10,000 civilians and members of the security forces have died, according to an NGO estimate, while at least two million people have fled their homes. At least a third of the country lies outside government control.