Owner, Burkina Faso – Fatimata Lankoande was asleep in her home when a gunshot awakened her.
“Everyone was scared and scared,” said the 63-year-old. People were running everywhere. ”
Lankoande said the robbers arrived on the night of June 4-5 on three cars and more than 30 motorcycles. They first attacked a gold miner by chance outside Solhan, a village in northern Burkina Faso. Afterwards, they entered the village market, and set fire to shops and houses while continuing their execution.
“They started killing everyone they met,” said Lankoande, who had fled to Dori, a large nearby town.
He also said that some of the things he saw were very painful to describe.
“It was the most difficult time I’ve ever had in my life,” Lankoandee said. “I know seven of the people involved. They were young boys… [The attackers] they were very numerous and when they entered the market they also killed women… and burned our hospital. ”
The growth of June 4-5 assassination in Solhan has sent this wonder into a world that has been devastated every day. With so many men, women and children injured, it is the worst in Burkina Faso since it was shot dead in 2015 by a deadly conflict that has spread across the Sahel region of West Africa.
The death toll from the government is 132, but a number of journalists who cite local sources say it has proven to be 160.
A paramedic who knows the situation in Solhan said, “We understand that many bodies have been buried, which is why it is difficult to get exact figures.”
Evidence of the aftermath of the tragedy and burial told Al Jazeera that all the bodies have now been buried and that the numbers are thought to be more than 132.
Despite the inconsistency, the pay cut brings the number of people killed by the military in Burkina Faso from the beginning of the year to more than 500.
Heni Nsaibia, a researcher at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which oversees the uprising in Burkina Faso, said Solhan’s assassination showed how security in the Sahel region had not changed despite the presence of thousands of armed forces around the world.
He also mentioned neighboring Niger, where civilian casualties in the first two months of 2021 had already outpaced the number of people killed by the military “every year ago”.
French, American and European troops have for many years been operating in the three-border border, where the borders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet.
Nsaibia acknowledged that there was “progress” in the area, but said, “This is very much looking at three frontiers. [region] does not overlook other areas where jihadist groups are settling or expanding their activities. ”
No armed group, including the two largest groups in the region – Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) – have blamed Solhan’s assassination. On Tuesday, JNIM issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.
“Although JNIM refused to participate, there are delay doubts JNIM fighters can do this, “Alex Thurston, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati and a military specialist in the Sahel, told Al Jazeera.
“This could raise questions about whether central leadership has the responsibility to oversee all sectors,” he said.
Following Solhan’s attack, the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, changed completely when the government declared three days of mourning for the country.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who won the election last year, condemned “cruelty” and “humiliation” and called for unity “against the secret forces”.
Military forces linked to ISIL and al-Qaeda have hit large areas north and east of Burkina Faso, where many see it as the center of intense conflict in the region.
Asked about the importance of Solhan’s invasion, Thurston said, “Participants in the Sahelian war are using force to control civilians, but what has happened is that these problems are divided and violent.”
Investigators and human rights groups say the protest appears to have targeted members of the Volunteers for Defense of the Fatherland (VDPs), government-backed militias who are supporting the fight against the militias.
A few days after the killings, Siaka Coulibally, a Burkinabe investigator, told Al Jazeera that “it is still difficult to get a clear or accurate explanation of the threat.
“But the first explanation means that the invasion of VDPs is still going on,” Coulibally said. “In the east, all the villages were destroyed and its people were killed because these villages are seen as VDP villages with their families.”
The plot targeted untouched gold mines, one of the 700 to 1,000 located in Burkina Faso. Fighters are known to look for mines to raise money. The government will suspend a gold mine in Yagha state where the uprising last week took place.
Yagha officials have also banned the use of motorcycles, a method used for visiting fighters. The strategy, which Nigeria used in the war against the Boko Haram militant group, aims to enable security forces to identify suspects.
Solan aid in the attack was also needed, in addition to the hurricane crisis that had already caused the evacuation of 1.2 million people.
“At the risk of their lives, more than 3,300 people he fled to the nearby villages of Sebba and Sampelga, among them more than 2,000 children and more than 500 women, ”said a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees report.
“She arrived with little or nothing left. Many have been warmly welcomed by local families who share what little they have. ”