More than 70 people, including children, have been killed this month in violence sweeping Burkina Faso, the West African country’s state prosecutor said Monday.
The country is battling a jihadist insurgency that spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015 and has left more than 17,000 civilians and soldiers dead and displaced two million people.
An attack on November 5 in the central northeastern town of Zaongo by persons unknown killed left many dead, said prosecutor Simon Gnanou — mostly elderly people and children.
Burkina Faso is ruled by a transitional government put in place after a September 2022 coup.
The European Union has condemned the Zaongo attack.
Brussels on Sunday urged post-coup transition authorities in Ouagadougou to do all they could to determine who was responsible and shed light on the circumstances for what EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell termed a “massacre.”
The US government also condemned the violence.
Gnanou said that interviews with relatives of the victims would give greater accuracy on the death toll and more indication of who was responsible for the carnage.
A security source told AFP late Sunday that an investigation had been opened into the killings.
“The massacre happened two days after fighting between security forces and terrorists,” a Zaongo resident told AFP at the weekend.
“Zaongo was one of the few villages in the area not to have been emptied out by the terrorists. Some suspected the inhabitants of collaborating with them,” the resident added on condition of anonymity.
Gnanou said he had visited the area on Saturday with a military judge and members of an anti-terrorist special brigade as well as gendarmes.
He praised security forces for “demining” the zone and fighting back following the attack by suspected jihadists.
Burkinabe authorities in April opened an investigation into another massacre of 136 people — half of them women and children — in the northern town of Karma, carried out by men wearing military uniforms.
Captain Ibrahim Traore, Burkina’s transitional president, said “hasty conclusions” should not be drawn.