'Killing field': At least 180 bodies discovered in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's security forces are overwhelmed by the flare-up of attacks carried out almost every day by jihadist groups.
Burkina Faso's security forces are overwhelmed by the flare-up of attacks carried out almost every day by jihadist groups.
Ahmed Ouoba, AFP
  • Several bodies of men were found in Djibo, a town in Burkina Faso.
  • Human Rights Watch believes the killings should be investigated.
  • A community leader said that many of men had their hands tied and were shot in the head.


At least 180 bodies have been found in common graves in Djibo, a town in the north of Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a report released on Wednesday, saying that the killings were probably carried out by government forces.

"Available evidence suggests government forces were involved in mass extrajudicial executions," HRW said. It called for the government to hold those responsible to account.

The Burkina Faso government told HRW it would investigate the claims.

READ | Burkina Faso frees prisoners to stem virus spread

Minister of Defence Moumina Cherif Sy said the killings could have been committed by armed groups using stolen army uniforms and logistical equipment.

"It is difficult for the population to distinguish between armed terrorist groups and the defence and security forces," he said.

'Shot in the head'

Burkina Faso has been battling armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) since 2017.

Internally Displaced People (IDP) from northern Bu
Internally Displaced People (IDP) from northern Burkina Faso flee intercommunal clashes, which have already killed a hundred people in a few weeks. (Olympia de Maismont, AFP)

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and almost a million displaced by the conflict, which is also affecting neighbours Niger and Mali.

Despite promises to investigate and prosecute previous reports of rights abuses, rights groups say the government has done little.

Concerns over increased reports of abuses by soldiers prompted European Union and Sahel leaders to warn during a security summit on 30 June that any of their troops found guilty of human rights abuses would be punished severely.

The HRW report said the killings in Djibo probably took place between November 2019 and June 2020. Residents who saw the bodies told HRW that the dead were all men.

HRW said the bodies were left in groups along major roads, under bridges, and in fields and vacant lots around Djibo.

"Burkina Faso authorities need to urgently uncover who turned Djibo into a 'killing field'," said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at HRW.

A community leader in Djibo told HRW: "Many of the dead were blindfolded, had their hands tied up ... and were shot in the head."

Many who spoke to HRW said they were fearful of being killed by government forces as well as armed fighters.

"At night, so many times I'd hear the sound of vehicles and then, bam! bam! bam! ... And the next morning, we'd see or hear of bodies found in this place or that," a Djibo farmer told Reuters news agency.

Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
The Rugby Championship looks set to be hosted November and December, with New Zealand a likely destination. Would you be confident in the Boks defending their title?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No, the Boks will be undercooked compared to their Australian and New Zealand counterparts.
36% - 763 votes
The All Blacks will win easily if all the games are staged in New Zealand.
24% - 501 votes
Underprepared or not, the Boks should jump at any sort of opportunity to play Test rugby.
40% - 848 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
17.20
(-0.08)
ZAR/GBP
22.49
(-0.04)
ZAR/EUR
20.24
(-0.11)
ZAR/AUD
12.26
(-0.24)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.03)
Gold
1974.53
(+0.01)
Silver
24.33
(+0.43)
Platinum
924.00
(+0.60)
Brent Crude
43.86
(+1.45)
Palladium
2083.00
(-0.02)
All Share
55829.40
(+0.19)
Top 40
51571.71
(+0.40)
Financial 15
9805.08
(-3.46)
Industrial 25
74738.74
(+0.31)
Resource 10
56585.24
(+1.85)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo