HomeAfricaDozens killed in Burkina Faso village attack by men in military uniforms

Dozens killed in Burkina Faso village attack by men in military uniforms

  • EDITOR’S BRIEF: The recent attack on the village of Karma highlights the ongoing security crisis in Burkina Faso. The government’s response to the insurgency will need to be multifaceted and address the underlying structural problems that have contributed to the crisis. The international community should also provide support to the government of Burkina Faso in addressing the crisis, including through the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance with peacebuilding and security sector reform.

Around 60 civilians were killed in a village in northern Burkina Faso by men wearing military uniforms, according to the local prosecutor. The attack has sparked an investigation into the latest bloodshed in the insurgency-hit country. Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in the heart of West Africa’s Sahel, is one of the world’s most volatile and impoverished countries. Attacks blamed on suspected jihadists are on the rise in Burkina Faso, which is battling an insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali.

The village of Karma, where the attack took place, is near the Malian border and attracts many illegal gold miners. According to residents contacted by AFP, survivors said more than 100 people on motorbikes and pick-up trucks raided the village. Dozens of men and young people were killed by the men, dressed in military uniforms, they said. Survivors gave a toll of “around 80 dead”.

The latest bloodshed occurred a week after 34 defence volunteers and six soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected jihadists near the village of Aorema, about 15 kilometres from provincial capital Ouahigouya and 40 kilometres from Karma. Following that attack, Burkina Faso’s military junta declared a “general mobilisation” to give the state “all necessary means” to combat a string of bloody attacks blamed on jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

The government had already announced a plan to recruit 5,000 more soldiers to battle the insurgency that has gripped the country since 2015. Captain Ibrahim Traore, Burkina’s transitional president, has declared a goal of recapturing the 40 percent of the country’s territory which is controlled by jihadists.

The violence has left more than 10,000 people dead, according to non-governmental aid groups, and displaced two million people from their homes. Anger within the military at the mounting toll sparked two coups in 2022, the most recent of which was in September, when Traore seized power. He is standing by a pledge made by the preceding junta to stage elections for a civilian government by 2024.

Burkina Faso is facing a complex and multifaceted crisis, with a combination of long-standing structural problems and an increasingly severe security situation. The country is facing an insurgency which is rooted in local grievances over the lack of economic opportunities, corruption, and poor governance. Additionally, a range of external factors, including the spill-over of conflicts from neighbouring Mali, have contributed to the country’s instability.

The Burkinabe government has made efforts to combat the jihadist threat, including by increasing military spending and deploying troops to areas affected by the insurgency. However, the government’s response has been criticized for being heavy-handed and exacerbating the crisis. The ongoing violence has had a severe impact on the civilian population, with millions of people being forced to flee their homes, and access to healthcare and education being severely limited.

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