Armed men have killed at least 43 people in attacks on two villages in northern Burkina Faso, the government said on Monday.
Armed men attacked the villages of Dinguila and Barga in Yatenga province, the government announced on Monday in a statement. The army was dispatched to secure the villages and at least six wounded were transported to the nearby Ouahigouya central hospital, the statement said.
Government spokesman Rémis Fulgance Dandjinou told the Associated Press that he did not know who was behind the violence.
However, villages that have been attacked are known to be populated by a Fulani shepherd who has been targeted by local defense groups and the military for their alleged affiliation with jihadists.
A Ouahigouya resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his safety, told the AP that the attacks took place after jihadists found refuge in the town of Dinguila. Local defense groups followed the extremists in the city and massacred people, he said.
Analysts say the attack signifies a disturbing trend.
“This is also one of the areas where we have identified a significant risk of increased stigma against the Fulani,” said William Assanvo, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies. It is the first massacre of this magnitude in this region, he said.
This trend is also happening in neighboring Mali, said Christian Poonwah, director of Safer Access Consulting, an international security company in Ouagadougou.
“This is a testament to the wider trend of increasing dividing lines between local communities. This is further exacerbated by extremist groups capitalizing on inter-community violence and attracting targeted communities on their side,” he said. .
Attacks by militants linked to IS and Al-Qaida have shaken the West African nation. Last year, nearly 2,000 more deaths were reported compared to 2018, a sixfold increase, according to a report from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, which collects and analyzes information on conflicts.