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Burkina Faso Military Accused of Town Killings

Jul 08, 2020

The New York Times reports that in Burkina Faso the bodies of at least 180 men have been found in the town of Djibo. The bodies have been found in fields, by the side of road, and under bridges over the past eight months, beginning last November.

Residents of the town said several of the dead had been found shot and blindfolded with their hands bound. Relatives have been found among the dead.

A report by Human Rights Watch blames the extrajudicial killings on Burkina Faso’s security forces. The men killed were mainly members of the Fulani ethnic group. The Fulani are reportedly recruited by ‘terrorist’ organizations. They are, therefore, reportedly targeted by government forces.

According to the NYT thousands of people have been killed in Burkina Faso in the past four years by government security forces, terrorists, and bandits. Almost one million people have fled the country.

Djibo is a Fulani-majority town, home to the country’s biggest cattle market. According to the NYT one resident of Djibo said he often saw corpses on his way to the bus. An animal trader said he had stopped buying cows in Djibo because seeing the bodies terrified him. Residents, out of fear of being associated with terrorists, were too scared to bury the bodies.

Defence Minister, Chérif Sy, said the allegations would be investigated, but accused terrorists of being behind the killings. He said they disguised themselves in army uniforms. However, Djibo is both controlled and patrolled by the military, so, according to the NYT, it is unlikely that terrorist groups would be able to operate there. Moreover, several residents said they saw soldiers arrest men who were later found dead in Djibo.

Authorities buried most of the bodies in a mass grave in March, following complaints by residents of Djibo.

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