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Burkina Faso alleges foreign interference and violation of its airspace

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Colonel Kassoum Coulibaly delivers a speech during the 62nd anniversary of the creation of the Burkina Faso Armed Forces   -  
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MARTIN DEMAY/AFP or licensors

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's defence minister on Wednesday denounced what he said was an "international coalition" lined up against his country and alleged there had been violations of the country's air space.

And the country's intelligence agency said an April massacre of civilians -- which some rights groups have blamed on the army -- was carried out by jihadist fighters dressed as soldiers.

Colonel Kassoum Coulibaly, appointed by the military junta running the country, also echoed the denials by the new regime's leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, that the Russian mercenary force Wagner was operating there.

"A lot of people think it's the Russians who are guiding us," said Coulibaly. "But the Burkinabe aren't children."

Russia, he insisted, was not setting the rules, and "gives us nothing". It was the people of Burkina Faso who were contributing to the war effort against the jihadist insurgency in the country, he said.

"There is no Wagner here."

Coulibaly was speaking in Ouagadougou at a meeting with union representatives and leaders of other civil society groups.

He suggested that the international coalition aligned against the country -- the members of which he did not identify -- was responding to the country's closer ties with Russia since the coup last September that brought the military to power.

But the country only asked for what it needed, he insisted.

"We don't need anyone to send us a single foreign soldier," he insisted. "We have our VDP," he added, referring to the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP), an auxiliary force.

At the same meeting, Justice Minister Colonel Francois Yameogo acknowledged that 136 bodies had been buried last week at Karma, in the north of the country, after a massacre witnesses say was carried out by men in military uniform.

It was the first time the regime acknowledged the toll advanced by rights groups of 136 for the April 20 massacre. Previously, the official toll spoke of around 60 killings.

Local groups have blamed the Burkinabe army for the killings and Yameogo said an investigation was underway.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International also accused the army for having carried out the massacre. It put the toll at "at least 147".

But at the same meeting the national intelligence agency blamed the jihadists.

"Terrorists show their perfidy by sometimes committing exactions dressed in Burkina's military uniforms," the agency said during its presentation.

Traore, Burkina's transitional president, has declared a goal of recapturing the 40 percent of the country's territory which is currently controlled by jihadists.

The violence has left more than 10,000 people dead, according to non-governmental aid groups, and displaced two million people from their homes.

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