As Islamic militancy is on the rise across West Africa, a village attack in Burkina Faso that killed over 132 people is said to be the worst the nation has seen in years as security has quickly deteriorated over the last few years.
On June 4, suspected jihadi militants launched an attack on the village of Solhan in the Yegha province, which officials say was a reaction to the presence of volunteer military fighters in the community.
The attackers shot down villagers and burned down homes, displacing almost 800 people, according to an internal report from aid workers seen by the Associated Press.
As reported by CBN News, an aid worker said over 40 people were injured by gunshots and burns as they fled the horrific attack.
A local journalist told the AP that he’d seen the wounded lying all over the floor in the Dori hospital where survivors were taken.
Both he aid worker and the journalist spoke to the press on the condition of anonymity, the latter out of fear for his own safety.
“The slaughter of over 100 civilians, the highest number of casualties from a single attack in recent years in Burkina Faso, marks a shocking escalation in the violence that has engulfed the country since 2015. Killed in the middle of the night by armed assailants, the victims include women and children who were given no choice to flee, no chance to live,” Manenji Mangundu, the country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Burkina Faso, explained of the harrowing conflict.
Over the last five years, Burkina Faso has seen the rise of an al-Qaeda-linked terror group, JNIM. No one has taken responsibility for the attack, but officials believe that the group is responsible.
Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, says that the JNIM is the most influential in the province.
“After the attack in Solhan, the assailants withdrew and also planted explosives to prevent army access, both the geographic aspect and the use of explosives in this manner is not typical for Islamic State, but rather JNIM modus operandi,” he said.
Community volunteers who fight along with the army to try to keep terror at bay have also reportedly began to wreak havoc themselves, sometimes perpetrating violence against civilians as well as jihadis.
“The militarization of the war against terrorism has created more insecurity than benefits, and both sides, jihadis, and pro-state militias are targeting civilians,” said Tanguy Quidelleur a social sciences and politics Ph.D. who CNB notes has researched self-defense groups in the Sahel.
Over 1.2 million people have been internally displaced due to the violence between jihadis and the military.
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