Burkina Faso security forces reportedly executed 31 unarmed detainees in the northern city of Djibo, Human Rights Watch said Monday, calling for an immediate investigation.
The men, all of the Fulani ethnicity, were reportedly killed just hours after being arrested on April 9 during a government counterterrorism operation, the New York-based rights group said.
The incident occurred in Djibo, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the capital Ouagadougou.
He made fun of “brutally an anti-terrorism operation that could constitute a war crime and could fuel new atrocities,” said Corinne Dufka, HRW director for the Sahel region.
HRW interviewed 17 people during the killings, including 12 witnesses to the arrests and the subsequent burial of the victims, the statement said.
Local people have speculated that the Fulani were targeted because of the recent presence of some armed Islamists around Djibo.
According to them, dozens of members of the security forces were involved in the operation, which lasted several hours, said HRW.
The victims were taken in a convoy of ten military vehicles, including vans, an armored car and motorcycles, the statement said.
After hearing gunshots, locals found the bodies of 31 men, last seen in the custody of the security forces, said HRW. Many had their eyes or hands tied.
None of the witnesses saw any of the men arrested with a gun.
Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been struggling with a jihadist insurgency since 2015. The conflict has provoked attacks on Fulani herders whom other communities accuse of supporting militants.
HRW said it had sent its findings to the Burkinabé government but that their statement contained no response from the authorities.