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More than 100 People Killed in Attack in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso’s government said that about 100 people were killed by armed assailants in the north of the country Friday night, in one the deadliest attacks in year.

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Armed assailants killed around 100 civilians in an overnight attack on a village in northern Burkina Faso, the government said on Saturday, in one of the deadliest attacks in the Western African nation in years.

The attackers struck during the night on Friday, killing residents of a village in the northeastern part of the country, near the border with Niger. They also burned homes and the village market, the government said in a statement.

Burkina Faso and its neighbors in the Sahel region have faced a resurgence of extremist violence in recent years, many of them led by jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Since France began a military intervention in 2013 to counter jihadist violence in Mali, many member of the remaining groups, including affiliates of Al Qaeda, moved south near the border with Burkina Faso.

The first attacks claimed by a jihadist group struck Burkina Faso in 2015, and the country, once one of the most stable nations in West Africa, has since been engulfed in a spiral of violence, facing hundreds of similar attacks, some carried out by jihadist groups and others by local rebels.

They have stormed many villages, especially in the region known as Liptako-Gourma, a border area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, where the attack on Friday took place.

But soldiers have also killed a growing number of civilians, further stoking the resentment of local populations.

The government described the attackers in Friday’s violence as terrorists, but no group has yet claimed responsibility.

Rida Lyammouri, an expert on the Sahel who is based in Washington, said a group of gunmen believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara had initially attacked an artisanal gold mine in the area, before they went after civilians.

“They burned cars, houses, a local market, and have planted improvised explosive devices,” said Mr. Lyammouri, a senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, a Morocco-based think tank.

Mr. Lyammouri added that the death toll was likely higher than officials had estimated. “It’s definitely one of the deadliest attacks in Burkina Faso in years,” he said.

Roch Kabore, Burkina Faso’s president, declared a 72-hour period of national mourning after the attack. It said the provisional toll put the number of people killed at around 100.

The deteriorating security situation has fueled one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world, with more than 1.2 million people forced to flee their homes in Burkina Faso, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs body. The country is also hosting some 20,000 refugees from neighboring Mali who are seeking safety from jihadist attacks.

In March, attackers killed 137 people in coordinated raids on villages in southwestern Niger.

Several foreigners have also been taken hostage or killed in recent years. In 2019, two French soldiers were killed in a raid to rescue four hostages — two Frenchmen, an American and a South Korean citizen. In April, two Spanish journalists and an Irish ranger were also killed in an ambush in southeastern Burkina Faso, near the border with Benin.

Elian Peltier contributed reporting.

© The New York Times 2021


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