OUAGADOUGOU, 6 June 2021 – The death toll in attacks on civilians in two villages in northern Burkina Faso on Friday night has risen to 174.

Over the last 24 hours, the death toll has risen by 41 more civilian deaths.

Burkina Faso - Source AFP

Burkina Faso – Source AFP

Jihadist Militants Massacre 174 Civilians in Burkina Faso - Photo Deutsche Welle

Jihadist Militants Massacre 174 Civilians in Burkina Faso – Photo Deutsche Welle

The two attacks hit Solhan village, situated in Yagha province near Burkina Faso’s eastern border with Niger, and the village of Tadaryat, situated about 93 miles to the north of Solhan.

Thirteen civilians and a soldier were killed in the attack in Tadaryat and a total of at least 160 people have been confirmed massacred in the attack on residents of Solhan village.

On Monday, officials in Solhan told reporters that a total of 160 bodies were recovered from three mass graves in the village on Sunday alone.

Some 1.5 Million People Displaced by the War in Burkina Faso - Photo RFI

Some 1.5 Million People Displaced by the War in Burkina Faso – Photo RFI

Authorities in Solhan say the death toll may rise further as more graves are exhumed for a full count of the victims, most of whom were buried rapidly in keeping with Muslim traditions.

The assailants arrived on motorbikes, firing indiscriminately and killing civilians who were apparently only targeted because they happened to be out and about at the time of the attack.

The attackers looted shops and motorbikes, rustled cattle in Tadaryat, where they targeted security officers and members of a local vigilante or civilian self-defense group.

In the attack on Solhan village, the assailants looted shops, burnt down homes and the local market, according to eyewitnesses and survivors of the raid.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres - Photo Timeslive

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – Photo Timeslive

Burkina Faso's Roch Martin Christian Kabore - Photo Africa Intelligence

Burkina Faso’s Roch Martin Christian Kabore – Photo Africa Intelligence

On Saturday, Burkinabe President Roch Kabore decried the attacks, calling the Solhan attack, one of the worst recorded since jihadists first launched attacks in the country in 2015.

“I bow before the memory of the hundred civilians killed in this barbaric attack and extend my condolences to the families of the victims,” Kabore said.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has said he was “outraged” by the incident. 

Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns the heinous attack and underscores the urgent need for the international community to redouble support to member states in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human toll,” a spokesperson for the UN scribe said Sunday in a statement.

The Burkinabe honor guard - Photo Burkina Defense Ministry

The Burkinabe Honor Guard Honoring the Fallen – Photo Burkina Defense Ministry

Monday marks the third day of three days of national mourning declared Saturday by the government with flags.

Flags are flying at half-mast in all government buildings, military barracks, and diplomatic missions in Burkina Faso.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou on Saturday blamed the attack on those they described as terrorists.

The term has been used on previous occasions to reference jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in West Africa’s Sahel Region who have perpetrated numerous attacks across Africa’s Sahel Region.

President Kabore urged his fellow Burkinabes and the rest of the world to support his country to defeat the insurgency.

“We must stand united against the forces of evil,” he said in a tweet, explaining that his country’s forces have launched a hunt for the perpetrators of the massacres and pledging to bring those responsible to justice.

Sahel Region - Source Barron's

Armed Groups in Africa’s Sahel Region – Source Agence France Presse (AFP)

Most attacks in Burkina Faso have occurred in areas closest to the country’s borders with neighboring Mali and Niger.

In May 2021, 30 people were killed in attacks on two villages in eastern Burkina Faso.

More and more Burkinabe lives have been lost to the raids.

Whereas in 2018, under 200 fatalities were reported from such attacks in Burkina Faso, the death toll rose to almost 2,000 lives lost in 2020.

Pastoralists in Burkina Faso Facing Violent Rustlers - Photo Australian Institute of International Affairs

Pastoralists in Burkina Faso Facing Violent Rustlers – Photo Australian Institute of International Affairs

More than one million people have been displaced by the violence across Burkina Faso.

Vast parts of the Sahel Region – a semi-arid region that stretches across several countries of West Africa and the Central Africa sub-regions – have seen escalating violence from jihadist groups.

A multinational force made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mauritania, Chad, and Cameroon has been battling radical militants in the Sahel since late 2012 and early 2013.

French soldiers have deployed over 5,000 soldiers in support of this effort which suffered a setback last week when the United States halted all military cooperation with Mali following the organization of a second coup in nine months in that country.

Earlier this week, the French foreign ministry said it would withdraw military support to Mali if leaders of the new junta in the capital, Bamako, were to embrace radical Islam.

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