At least 43 people were killed in northern Burkina Faso on Monday in an attack on two villages that the government blamed on unidentified men but local media attributed to the Koglweogo militia group.
The villages, Dinguila and Barga, are inhabited by the country’s cattle-herding Fulani community – often accused by militias and security forces of harbouring and collaborating with extremist groups.
The Koglweogo – mostly from the Mossi ethnic group – are primarily known for fighting crime but have been sucked into conflict with jihadists and blamed for a series of deadly attacks on Fulani civilians that have increased inter-communal tensions in the country.
Burkina Faso’s government passed a new law last month to provide civilian volunteers with weapons and two weeks of training to fight against militants. Rights groups worry it may increase abuses against civilians and exacerbate ethnic tensions.
Human Rights Watch West Africa researcher Corrine Dukfa said the organisation is already investigating six incidents involving volunteers allegedly executing more than 120 people.
“Subcontracting defence to untrained civilians in climate of deepening ethnic tensions is unlawful and dangerous and counterproductive,” Dukfa said on Twitter yesterday.
Violence in Burkina Faso has now displaced more than 750,000 people – the vast majority since the beginning of last year. Read our latest on the new volunteers law and the groups behind the rising violence.
– Philip Kleinfeld