OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Gunmen killed at least 55 people over the weekend in northern Burkina Faso, authorities said Monday, the latest attack in the West African country where mounting violence is blamed on Islamic extremists.
Suspected militants targeted civilians in Seytenga in Seno province, government spokesman Wendkouni Joel Lionel Bilgo said at a news conference. While the government put the official toll at 55, others put the figure far higher.
Attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are soaring in Burkina Faso, particularly in the north. Jihadists killed at least 160 people in an attack in the town of Solhan in June 2021.
In January, mutinous soldiers ousted the democratically elected president, promising to secure the nation, but violence has only increased.
While no group claimed the weekend attack, conflict analysts say it was likely carried out by the Islamic State group.
“In recent weeks, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara have been the most aggressive group, notably in Seno and Oudalan provinces. Rida Lyammouri is a senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South. This Moroccan-based group focuses on economics, policy, and security.
“This is a major blow to security forces and puts them on the back foot again, indicating they are far from being able to secure the area and protect civilians,” he said.
Nearly 5,000 people have died over the last two years in Burkina Faso because of violence blamed on Islamic extremists. The country is currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis as 2 million more people fled their homes.
This story corrects the date of the attack on Solhan to July 2021.