Home Africa Burkina Faso Says It Will Investigate Army Killings In North Of Country

Burkina Faso Says It Will Investigate Army Killings In North Of Country


Burkina Faso is investigating killings in two northern villages in February, a government spokesperson said on Saturday. The investigation will come after a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claiming the army allegedly executed 223 people in the villages there.

Government spokesperson Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo had rejected HRW’s allegations as “peremptory” and had denied that the ruling junta was unwilling to look into the alleged atrocities. “The killings in Nodin and Soro have led to the opening of a judicial investigation,” Ouedraogo said in a late evening communique, citing a March 1 statement by a regional prosecutor.

The government’s stance is being seen as a turnaround. Earlier, Burkina Faso has temporarily halted the radio broadcasts of BBC Africa and the US-funded Voice of America (VOA) for two weeks due to their reporting on a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. Additionally, the authorities have mandated a temporary blockage of online access to the websites and digital platforms of BBC, VOA, and Human Rights Watch within Burkina Faso. This move follows revelations from a regional prosecutor in March about 170 individuals killed by unknown attackers in the villages of Komsilga, Nodin, and Soro.

Explaining the reason for the ban, Burkina Faso’s communication council criticised the HRW report for containing assertions that could potentially incite public unrest. Consequently, they decided to suspend the aforementioned broadcasters for covering this sensitive content.

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The HRW report which was released on Thursday had cited telephone interviews with witnesses, civil society and others where it had accused the military of executing residents of Nodin and Soro, including at least 56 children, as part of a campaign against civilians accused of collaborating with jihadist militants. Burkina Faso has been locked in a decade-long fight with Islamist groups linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State has worsened since respective militaries seized power in Burkina Faso and neighbouring Mali and Niger after coups in the respective countries.

The African country has seen a severe escalation of deadly attacks since 2023, with more than 8,000 people reportedly killed, according to U.S.-based crisis-monitoring group ACLED.

(Edited by Ashwin Ahmad)