Attack in Burkina Faso: the death toll climbs to 160 dead

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The results are heightened by the deadliest attack carried out by suspected jihadists since 2015 in Burkina Faso, which targeted on the night of Friday June 4 to Saturday June 5, 2021 the village of Solhan (North-East). It rose to 160 dead, local sources told Agence France-Presse on Sunday. In total, “160 bodies were buried yesterday [samedi 5 juin] in three mass graves by local populations […], including twenty children, ”declared an elected official from the region. A report confirmed by another local source, which specified that “50 bodies were buried in each of the two mass graves and 60 bodies in the third grave”.

“It is the populations themselves who carried out the removal and the burial of the bodies after having gathered and transported them” on scooters, added this source. A previous report from the same sources reported 138 dead on Saturday evening, the government citing 132 dead and forty injured.

“The defense and security forces are hard at work to neutralize them”

The local elected official affirmed that “the situation is still volatile in the area despite the announcement of military operations” and that the populations continue to flee Solhan for the towns near Sebba and Dori. “Many have lost everything after their property and homes burned down,” he said. Solhan is a small town located about fifteen kilometers from Sebba, the capital of Yagha province which has recorded in recent years numerous attacks attributed to jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. This area is close to the borders with Mali and Niger.

The attackers first targeted a post of Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP), civilian auxiliaries of the Burkinabè army, according to local sources. They then attacked Solhan’s homes and executed residents. According to the government, “the defense and security forces are hard at work to neutralize these terrorists.” A three-day national mourning began on Saturday in tribute to the victims of “this barbaric and despicable attack”, according to Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who called on his compatriots “to remain united and united against these obscurantist forces”.

“Cowardly and barbaric” attacks

In condemning this attack on Saturday 5 June, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres underlined “the urgent need for the international community to strengthen its support for one of its members in its fight against extremist violence and its unacceptable human toll” . The European Union (EU) also condemned “these cowardly and barbaric attacks”, calling “for everything to be done to hold their perpetrators accountable”.

The massive Solhan attack closely followed another, carried out late Friday evening June 4, on a village in the same region, Tadaryat, in which at least 14 people were killed. These attacks occur a week after two more attacks in the same area killing four people. On May 17 and 18, 15 villagers and a soldier were killed in two assaults on a village and a patrol in the northeast of the country. Security forces are struggling to stem the spiral of jihadist violence which has left more than 1,400 dead since 2015 and displaced more than a million people, fleeing areas of violence.

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