Burkina junta breaks silence over massacre by men 'in army uniform'

By Michael Fitzpatrick - RFI

Burkina Faso's military-run government on Thursday broke its silence over a massacre carried out by men in army uniform, issuing a statement condemning "barbaric acts" and urging a full investigation.

Armed men dressed in the uniform of the country's armed forces slaughtered inhabitants of the village of Karma in the north of the country on 20 April, killing at least 60 people, according to a local prosecutor.

Thursday's statement issued by Communications Minister Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo expressed "particular concern over reports of killings, in circumstances that remain to be clarified".

It condemned "these unspeakable and barbaric acts" and urged investigators to "shed light on the affair, which is repellent to the individual and collective conscience of all men and women enamoured of peace, justice and freedom".

Survivors and Karma residents have issued a statement saying more than 100 people died, describing a massacre by uniformed men that lasted hours.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN's high commissioner for human rights, has said that according to reports "at least 150 civilians" may have been killed.

General mobilisation against jihadist militia

The attack was officially disclosed on Sunday, three days after the events. The victims were buried on Thursday.

The massacre came on the heels of a jihadist attack that claimed the lives of 40 troops and militiamen and prompted the junta to declare a year-long "general mobilisation" to give the state "all necessary means" to counter the militants.

Burkina Faso's armed forces are struggling against Islamist militia affiliated to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

More than 10,000 civilians and members of the security forces have died, according to an NGO estimate, while at least two million people have fled their homes. At least a third of the country lies outside government control.

In the latest incident, the army said suspected jihadists killed 33 soldiers in an attack in the East region on Thursday.

The setbacks have sparked anger within the military, fuelling two coups last year that last September led to the ascent of the current junta leader, Captain Ibrahim Traoré.

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