Africa

Burkina Faso mass grave 'has 180 bodies' of men, mostly from ethnic groups

Soldiers patrolling in northern Burkina Faso in June 2012. Source: Getty Images

At least 180 bodies have been found in mass graves in northern Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch says.

Security forces might be responsible for a newly discovered "killing field" with at least 180 bodies in northern Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

The dead, who are all men, were killed between November 2019 and June 2020, and their corpses were left in small groups along major roadways, under bridges, in fields and vacant lots near the town of Djibo, residents told HRW.

The majority of the victims are believed to belong to the Fulani or Peuhl ethnic groups, and many bodies were found blindfolded, with bound hands and gunshot wounds, the researchers said, noting the evidence pointed towards extrajudicial mass killings.

Residents of Djibo and surrounding villages told researchers they believed government security forces were responsible for the deaths.

"The Burkina Faso authorities need to urgently uncover who turned Djibo into a killing field," said HRW Sahel director Corinne Dufka.

"Existing information points toward government security forces so it's critical to have impartial investigations, evidence properly gathered," Ms Dufka added.

Malian soldiers take part in training at the Kamboins general Bila Zagre military camp near Ouagadougo in Burkina Faso on April 12, 2018.
Malian soldiers take part in training at the Kamboins general Bila Zagre military camp near Ouagadougo in Burkina Faso on April 12, 2018.
AFP

Residents buried most of the corpses between March and April while some remains are still unburied, according to the report.

Defence Minister Cherif Moumina Sy told HRW on 3 July he will investigate the allegations, noting the killings could have been committed by Islamist militants operating in the region.

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