13 dead in Burkina Faso after suspected jihadist attack

Burkina Faso (iStock)
Burkina Faso (iStock)

Thirteen people died when suspected jihadists attacked a village in central-northern Burkina Faso, triggering a deadly bout of ethnic violence, local sources and a security official said on Wednesday.

Gunmen on motorbikes attacked the village of Yirgou in Barsalogo district on Tuesday morning, "killing six people, including the village chief" and his son, the security official said.

A Barsalogo resident, reached by phone by AFP from the capital Ouagadougou, said local villagers, who were from the Mossi ethnic group, then attacked a nearby camp of herders from the nomadic Fulani group, "accusing them of being accomplices of the terrorists."

"Seven Fulani herders were lynched and their homes were burned down," the security official said.

The mayor of Barsalogo district, Abdoulaye Pafadnam, said the 13 dead were buried at nightfall on Tuesday, but added it was possible the toll was even higher.

"A precarious calm has returned to the village, thanks to the presence of defence and security reinforcements," he said.

"However, there are reports going around of armed groups coming from the Malian border, and these have caused a mobilisation of the koglweogo," Pafadnam said, referring to a self-defence group.

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"A crisis committee has been set up to get everyone around the table to talk and avoid the worst," he said.

Burkina on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in provinces within seven of the country's 13 administrative regions, four days after 10 gendarmes were killed near the border with Mali.

A state of emergency gives additional powers to the security forces to carry out searches of homes and to restrict freedom of movement.

Burkina Faso lies in the heart of the vast Sahel.

The region turned into a hotbed of extremism and lawlessness after chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, followed by an Islamist insurgency in northern Mali and the rise of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

Jihadist attacks began in northern Burkina Faso in 2015 but then spread to the east, near the border with Togo and Benin.

Most attacks have been attributed to the jihadist group Ansarul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to the JNIM (the Group to Support Islam and Muslims), which has sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Those groups are believed to be responsible for more than 270 deaths since 2015. The capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times with the deaths of almost 60 people.

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