At least 132 civilians have been killed in an attack carried out by armed men against a post of the anti-jihadist militias Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP) in Solhan, in northeastern Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has decreed 72 hours of national mourning.
“The attack, launched by numerous armed men, had as its main objective the position of the Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland, civilian auxiliaries of the Armed Forces in the fight against terrorism. Later they were against the houses,” explained one source cited by Radio France Internationale (RFI). According to this source, the help took two hours to arrive.
A second source has reported that “so far a hundred bodies of different ages have been found” and has reported several more wounded people. The attackers also set fire to several houses and the town market.
The president of Burkina Faso has proclaimed three days of mourning for the victims of the attack. “I bow my head in memory of the 100 civilians killed in this barbaric attack and send my condolences to the families of the victims,” he said.
“The security and defense forces are working hard to find and neutralize those responsible for this despicable act “, has added. “We must remain united against the forces of evil,” he concluded, without identifying those responsible.
Previously, local sources had informed the local radio station Radio Omega that the attack began late last Friday and has continued throughout this morning in the city of Solhan, Yagha province.
In addition, according to police sources to the official agency of Burkina Faso (AIB), the number of victims is completely provisional and could increase in the next few hours because the assailants began at one point to shoot “blindly” against the population, in what is the bloodiest attack against the civilian population in recent years in the African country.
Solhan is 14 kilometers from Sebba, the provincial capital, and has been the scene of several incidents since the beginning of the year. On February 13, the deputy mayor of Sohan was kidnapped for three weeks by a group of bandits, from whom he eventually escaped.
The Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland are a militia that fights against the jihadist assailants who have spread terror in the rural areas of Burkina.
Local humanitarian organizations, such as the Observatory for Human Dignity, denounce that the group has sometimes acted as “death squads”, Sowing desolation under the banner of the fight against terrorism by carrying out summary executions of civilians, especially of the Fulani ethnic group, also called Peul.
After breaking the news, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has expressed his “anger” at these deaths and has indicated that there are seven minors among the fatalities.
Guterres “strongly condemns this heinous attack and underlines the urgent need for the international community to redouble its support for member states in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human cost,” said a spokesman for Guterres, Stéphane Dujarric.