HRW: Several Mass Graves Found in Burkina Faso, Government Accused

Published July 8th, 2020 - 11:17 GMT
Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore poses for a group picture during the G5 Sahel summit on June 30, 2020, in Nouakchott. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore poses for a group picture during the G5 Sahel summit on June 30, 2020, in Nouakchott. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
Highlights
It is difficult for the [general] population to distinguish between armed terrorist groups and the defense and security forces.

Several mass graves with dozens of bodies have been found in a northern town in Burkina Faso, prompting suspicions of extra-judicial killings by government forces, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

The rights organization said in a report on Wednesday that at least 180 bodies, all belonging to males, had been found buried in mass graves dug on the roadside, under bridges, and in fields in and around the town of Djibo.

“Available evidence suggests government forces were involved in mass extrajudicial executions,” HRW said.

It said the killings likely took place between November 2019 and June 2020.

A community leader in Djibo told HRW, “Many of the dead were blindfolded, had their hands tied up… and were shot in the head.”

The Burkinabe government said it would investigate the report but added that the killings could have been committed by extremist militant groups using stolen army uniforms and logistical equipment.

“It is difficult for the [general] population to distinguish between armed terrorist groups and the defense and security forces,” Minister of Defense Moumina Cheriff Sy said.

 

An HRW official said the government needed to investigate promptly.

“Burkina Faso authorities need to urgently uncover who turned Djibo into a ‘killing field,’” said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at HRW.

Since 2017, Burkina Faso’s armed forces have been battling extremist militants linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups. Scores of people have been killed in the past year in the country, and over half a million people have fled their homes due to attacks, which have also fueled ethnic and religious tensions.

Burkina Faso, once considered a relatively calm area in the Sahel region, is also plagued by a spillover of violence and criminality from its chaotic northern neighbor Mali.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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