Gunmen killed at least 100 people in a northern Burkina Faso village, the government said Saturday, in what was the country's deadliest attack in years.
The attack took place Friday evening in Solhan village, in the Sahel's Yagha province, government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura said in a statement blaming jihadists. The local market and several homes were also burned down in the area toward the border of Niger, he said.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore called the attack “barbaric.”
This is the deadliest attack recorded in Burkina Faso since the West African country was overrun by jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State about five years ago, said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
“It is clear that militant groups have shifted up gears to aggravate the situation in Burkina Faso, and moved their efforts to areas outside the immediate reach of the French-led counter-terrorism coalition fighting them in the tri-state border region,” he said.
Despite the presence of more than 5,000 French troops in the Sahel, jihadist violence is increasing. In one week in April, more than 50 people were killed in Burkina Faso, including two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist. More than 1 million people in the country have been internally displaced.
A local who did not want to be named, fearing for his safety, was visiting relatives in a medical clinic in Sebba town, approximately 12 kilometers from where the attacks occurred. He said he saw many wounded people enter the clinic.
“I saw 12 people in one room and about 10 in another. There were many relatives caring for the wounded. There were also many people running from Solhan to enter Sebba....People are very afraid and worried,” he told the Associated Press by phone.
The government has declared 72 hours of mourning.