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Faith  Nyasuguta 

Approximately 170 people faced horrifying “executions” in a spate of attacks on three villages in northern Burkina Faso last week, shedding light on the relentless jihadist violence engulfing the junta-ruled nation. 

On the same fateful day of  February 25th, separate assaults on a mosque in eastern Burkina and a Catholic church in the north left dozens more dead.

Regional prosecutor Aly Benjamin Coulibaly disclosed that he had received reports of the attacks on the villages of Komsilga, Nodin, and Soroe in Yatenga province, with a provisional toll of “around 170 people executed.” 

Survivors of the attacks recounted that numerous women and young children were among the victims, illustrating the brutality of the assaults.

However, Coulibaly refrained from attributing blame to any specific group and urged a comprehensive investigation. He highlighted that his office had ordered an inquiry and sought information from the public to ascertain the perpetrators behind these appalling acts.

These attacks occurred independently of other deadly incidents on the same day at a mosque in the rural community of Natiaboani and a church in the village of Essakane. The official death toll for these specific attacks is yet to be released, but a senior church official noted at the time that at least 15 civilians lost their lives in Essakane.

Burkina Faso is grappling with an ongoing jihadist insurgency, a menace ignited by rebels affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015. 

The relentless violence has claimed almost 20,000 lives and displaced over 2 million people in Burkina Faso, a nation already grappling with extreme poverty, situated in the Sahel – a region fraught with instability.

The state’s inability to quell the persistent insecurity played a pivotal role in two military coups in 2022. The current president, Ibrahim Traoré, has prioritized the fight against rebel groups to restore stability in the beleaguered nation.

February 25 witnessed several attacks, including strikes on a military detachment in Tankoualou in the east, a rapid-response battalion in Kongoussi in the north, and soldiers in the northern region of Ouahigouya. 

/Al Mayadeen English/

Responding to these incidents, the army and the Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP), a civilian force supporting the military, launched operations that reportedly “neutralized several hundred terrorists,” according to security sources.

Security Minister Mahamadou Sana characterized the wave of attacks as “coordinated.” He attributed the change in the enemy’s tactical approach to the destruction of terrorist bases and training camps, along with actions to disrupt their financing sources and supply corridors.

Historically, mosques and imams have been targets of attacks attributed to jihadists in Burkina Faso. Churches have also been subjected to violence, with Christians facing kidnappings. 

The recent surge in attacks highlights the urgent need for robust security measures to counter the escalating violence in Burkina Faso. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project reported a staggering 439 deaths in January alone, underscoring the severity of the crisis and the imperative for effective interventions to restore peace and protect the lives of civilians.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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