A girl holds pens inside of her classroom in Pissila on Jan 27, 2020. Barsalogho is a small town in northern Burkina Faso that hosts 10,000 displaced persons and refugees fleeing the resulting jihadist and inter-community violence. (OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP)
Burkina Faso said 39 people were killed in an attack by Islamist militants on the northern village of Silgadji that appears to mark a shift from raids on mainly military targets to the execution of civilians.
Security forces are helping residents to bury the victims after the “cowardly and barbaric” attack on Saturday, in Soum province, the government said in a statement Tuesday. The death toll is the highest of any attack in the West African nation this year.
The death toll is the highest of any attack in the West African nation this year
Burkina Faso has recorded a surge of militant violence near its borders since 2016, following the path of its neighbor Mali, which has failed to push out al-Qaeda affiliated fighters since 2012 despite a huge United Nations peacekeeping operation. While gunmen on motorbikes in Burkina Faso initially targeted teachers and military convoys, details about Saturday’s attack indicate a new modus operandi.
Militants cut phone lines to the village and planted landmines on access roads before surrounding the market and separating the men and the women, according to local media, citing security sources. The men were then executed.
The army will launch a recruitment drive for additional 2,000 troops next month, the government said earlier this week.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore had already declared two days of national mourning last week following an assault on a village that left about 20 people dead. In Mali, Islamic State fighters recently orchestrated several large-scale attacks on army camps that killed dozens of troops.
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