Twenty-eight bodies were discovered on New Year’s Eve in Nouna, northwestern Burkina Faso, the government, a civil society organization denouncing “extortion” committed by army auxiliaries, said on Monday evening, January 2. “The government has been informed of a tragedy that occurred on the night of December 30-31, 2022 in Nouna, the capital of the province of Kossi,” government spokesman Jean Emmanuel Ouédraogo said in a statement. The first information “reports 28 deaths”.
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The Collective Against Impunity and Community Stigmatization (CISC) condemned “blackmailing” of Homeland Defense Volunteers (VDP, Army Auxiliaries). The government press release adds that an investigation “was launched immediately (…) to clarify the circumstances of the tragedy and to establish all responsibilities”. “Pending the outcome of the investigation,” he called on “the entire population to calm down” and affirmed “that all measures have been taken to shed light on this unacceptable violence.”
“This tragedy comes at a time when Burkina Faso has launched an operation to mobilize all people for common action in the fight against terrorism,” notes the spokesman. Since 2015, Burkina Faso has faced increasing attacks from jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. They have left thousands dead and at least two million displaced, and are partly behind two military coups in 2022.
“Killed by Bullets”
The government claims it “remains fundamentally opposed to all forms of human rights violations or violations for any reason”.
A press release from Nouna High Court prosecutor Armel Sama said “most of the victims, all male, were shot dead”.
Prior to the publication of these official press releases, the CISC, a human rights organization, had just denounced “extortion against civilians”. “Armed civilians claiming to be members of the VDP “participate freely in organized looting and targeted attacks on the civilian population against a background of racial profiling and stigmatization”.
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On Saturday, “armed dozos (traditional hunters), identified by the victims as VDPs, carried out murderous reprisals after allegedly suffering a terrorist attack on the VDP headquarters in Nouna (…)”. “The number stands at 21 people killed, including children, but continues to rise as information reaches us from the field,” said Daouda Diallo, secretary-general of CISC.