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Burkina authorities accuse jihadists of civilian ‘massacres’

Burkina Faso’s military leaders on Monday accused jihadist groups of committing “massacres” against civilians in the north of the country and urged the population not to believe videos purportedly showing abuses by Burkina soldiers. Several videos circulating on social media since the start of December have accused the army of committing acts of violence against civilians in the northern Djibo area. “The government invites the population not to give any credibility to the videos currently circulating on social media,” communication minister and government spokesman, Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo, said in a press release. The videos “attempt to make people believe that massacres of civilians have been committed by Burkina Faso’s armed forces,” he added, denouncing a “communication campaign fuelled by the terrorists” concerning “massacres that they themselves have perpetrated”. Burkina has been caught since 2015 in a spiral of jihadist violence perpetrated by groups affiliated with Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda, which were already hitting neighbouring Mali and Niger. Ouedraogo said the videos aimed to discredit Burkina’s Defence and Security Forces and the auxiliary force Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) “who put up heroic resistance in the face of the terrorist onslaught that failed miserably to take control of the Djibo camp on 26 November”. Dozens of Burkinabe solders and volunteer militiamen were killed on November 26 in an attack by jihadists on an army detachment in Djibo, according to security sources. At least 40 civilians were also killed, according to the UN Human Rights Office. At the time, the military said that “more than 400 terrorists were neutralised” during a counteroffensive. Djibo, near the border area straddling Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, has been besieged by jihadist groups active in the region for months. Several convoys seeking to resupply the town have been attacked.

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