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Burkina Faso: NGO says Karma 'massacre' death toll is at least 136

Dr Daouda Diallo, Secretary General of the Collective against Impunity and Stigmatisation of Communities   -  
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Burkina Faso

A Burkinabe human rights organization counted 136 civilians, including 50 women and 21 children, killed on April 20 in the village of Karma in northern Burkina Faso by men wearing army fatigues.

"Our teams have documented and recorded 136 lifeless bodies in Karma, including 50 women and 21 children, among them babies under 30 days old killed on their mothers' backs," the Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities (CISC) said in a statement sent to AFP on Friday.

The official death toll, announced on Sunday by the public prosecutor in Ouahigouya, capital of the northern region, was around sixty, while survivors and residents of Karma put it at "more than a hundred".

Other nearby villages were also targeted on April 20 by these men in military garb, killing six in Dinguiri, two in Ménè, and three on the road between Ouahigouya and Barga, according to CISC.

In Karma, "they grouped civilians by the dozens and by neighborhoods, taking care to assign armed men to each grouping, with the slogan: 'Kill everyone,'" said CISC President Daouda Diallo, winner of the 2022 Martin Ennals Prize, the "Nobel Prize" for human rights.

The CISC recalls that these massacres came after a jihadist attack on April 15, during which six soldiers and at least 34 army auxiliaries were killed near a village in the same region.

"Survivors' testimonies indicate that the attackers accused the inhabitants of the village of Karma of harboring members of terrorist groups," Diallo said.

The CISC "strongly and vehemently condemns this latest massacre," recalling a series of deaths attributed to soldiers and auxiliaries in the fight against armed jihadist groups.

It demands a "full and impartial judicial inquiry into these horrific crimes against civilians, in order to bring all those responsible and the instigators to justice", considering that "impunity opens the way to all possible abuses, ranging from settling of scores to large-scale massacres".

On Thursday, the government "strongly" condemned "these despicable and barbaric acts" and said it was "following very closely the progress of the investigation", opened by the Ouahigouya prosecutor in order to "clarify" the facts and "question all those involved".

Burkina Faso, the scene of two military coups in 2022, has been caught since 2015 in a spiral of jihadist violence that began in Mali and Niger a few years earlier and has spread beyond their borders.

The violence has left more than 10,000 civilians and soldiers dead over the past seven years, according to NGOs, and some two million people internally displaced.

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