By Ebi Kesiena
The United Nations on Wednesday called for an independent investigation into “mass killings” in Burkina Faso this month that left dozens of people dead, including children.
Burkina Faso’s state prosecutor said Monday that more than 70 people had been killed in an attack on November 5 in the town of Zaongo in the central-north of country, and that most of them were children and elderly people.
The U.N. rights office said it was “following the alarming reports of mass killings” taking place and been reported in the West African country.
“We call on the transitional authorities to carry out promptly a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation into these serious reports,” spokeswoman Liz Throssell said in a statement.
She pointed out that while the authorities had confirmed at least 70 deaths, “some reports suggest that some 100 people may have been killed, and a large number injured.”
“This incident, during which a number of properties were burned down, is also reported to have led the villagers to flee the area,” she said.
The country is battling a jihadist insurgency that spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015 and has left more than 17,000 civilians and soldiers dead and displaced two million people.
Burkina Faso is ruled by a transitional government put in place after a September 2022 coup.
“Our office in Burkina Faso is continuing to look into what happened but is at this stage unable to identify the perpetrators.”
Throssell pointed out that it was “difficult to access the area for security reasons and talk to witnesses and survivors,” stressing the need for a probe to determine who was behind the killings.
“The perpetrators responsible must be brought to justice, in fair and transparent trials, and reparations must be provided to victims,” she said.