About 60 civilians were killed in a village in northern Burkina Faso by men wearing military uniforms, the local prosecutor said late Sunday, announcing an investigation into the latest bloodshed in the insurgency-hit country.
Landlocked and in the heart of West Africa’s Sahel, the country is one of the world’s most volatile and impoverished.
Attacks blamed on suspected jihadists are on the rise in Burkina Faso, which is battling an insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali.
“About 60 people were killed by people wearing the uniforms of our national armed forces” on Thursday in the village of Karma, in northern Yatenga province, Ouahigouya High Court prosecutor Lamine Kabore told AFP in a statement, citing the gendarmerie.
“The wounded have been evacuated and are currently being taken care of within our health facilities,” he said, adding that the perpetrators had “taken various goods”.
The village of Karma is near the Malian border and attracts many illegal gold miners.
According to residents contacted by AFP, survivors said more than 100 people on motorbikes and pick-up trucks raided the village.
Dozens of men and young people were killed by the men, dressed in military uniforms, they said.
Survivors gave a toll of “around 80 dead”.
The latest bloodshed occurred a week after 34 defence volunteers and six soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected jihadists near the village of Aorema, about 15 kilometres (10 miles) from provincial capital Ouahigouya and 40 kilometres from Karma.
Following that attack, Burkina Faso’s military junta declared a “general mobilisation” to give the state “all necessary means” to combat a string of bloody attacks blamed on jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
The decree states that anyone over 18 years old and physically fit who is not in the armed forces will be “called to enlist according to the needs expressed by the competent authorities”.
The government had already announced a plan to recruit 5,000 more soldiers to battle the insurgency that has gripped the country since 2015.
Captain Ibrahim Traore, Burkina’s transitional president, has declared a goal of recapturing the 40 percent of the country’s territory which is controlled by jihadists.
The violence has left more than 10,000 people dead, according to non-governmental aid groups, and displaced two million people from their homes.
Anger within the military at the mounting toll sparked two coups in 2022, the most recent of which was in September, when Traore seized power.
He is standing by a pledge made by the preceding junta to stage elections for a civilian government by 2024.