Burkina Faso

Jihadists 'target sleeping villagers' in Cameroon

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A man riding a bike in Maroua in northern Cameroon, 2020
Boko Haram began its attacks in Cameroon's Far North region in 2014

Suspected Islamist Boko Haram militants have killed 15 sleeping people and wounded six others in a grenade attack in northern Cameroon, reports say.

A security source and a local official told the Reuters news agency that the attackers targeted a camp for displaced people in the village of Nguetchewe, close to the border with Nigeria.

The victims - including women and children - were asleep when the assailants arrived.

Boko Haram has been fighting in north-east Nigeria for over a decade but has also been active in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. A regional military operation has failed to stop the attacks.

Donkey cart attack

Meanwhile, in northern Burkina Faso at least six people, most of them children, have been killed after a donkey cart ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) in a region which has seen many jihadist attacks.

A security source told a French news agency that four other people were injured and had been taken to a hospital in the nearby Ouahigouya town.

The victims were returning from grazing with their animals.

Since 2015 Burkina Faso has seen an upsurge in Islamist violence – spreading from Mali - and more than 1,000 people have been killed and a million have fled their homes.

Map of countries in West Africa affected by jihadist violence

Burkina Faso 'mass graves point to army killings'

BBC World Service

A policeman patrolling in the center of Ouahigouya, eastern Burkina Faso.
Getty Images
Security forces in Burkina Faso have been fighting jihadists since 2016

The bodies of at least 180 men have been found in mass graves in northern Burkina Faso where government forces are fighting a jihadist insurgency, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

There was evidence they were victims of extrajudicial killings by the army, the rights group said.

The men had been found shot dead under bridges, in fields and along major roadways near the town of Djibo in groups of up to 20 , before being buried by local residents.

The group has urged the government to find out who turned the area into what it called a "killing field".

Defence Minister Chérif Moumina Sy suggested militant groups suggested militant groups might be to blame.

The government has said it will investigate the allegations.

Leaders meet to discuss Sahel crisis

BBC World Service

Map showing jihadist activity in west Africa

Leaders of five West African countries and President Emmanuel Macron of France have been meeting to review their efforts to intensify the fight against jihadist militants in the Sahel.

Arriving for the summit in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, Mr Macron praised what he called the real successes of recent months, which include the killing of a local militant leader.

Jihadist groups have become increasingly active in the Sahel region in recent years, despite the presence of French forces and UN peacekeepers.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in almost daily attacks across the region.

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Huge spike in Burkina Faso school attacks - HRW

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Burkinabe troops in the city of Ouhigouya in the north of the country.
Getty Images
Soldiers are battling Islamist militants who oppose "Western" education

An international pressure group says a surge in Islamist militant attacks on schools in Burkina Faso is having a devastating impact on education.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said more than 200 teachers and other staff had been targeted since 2017 - some of them shot, others beheaded.

The armed Islamists say they oppose education as it is French and Western.

They have shot over the heads of students to scare them away. Schools have been blown up and used as military bases. Books have been burned and canteens looted.

All schools in Burkina Faso are now shut because of coronavirus.

But Islamist militant attacks had already forced 2,500 schools to close, depriving more than a 330,000 children of education.

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Burkina Faso probes death of 12 suspects in custody

BBC World Service

A map of Burkina Faso

A local prosecutor in the east of Burkina Faso says an inquiry has been opened after 12 people detained on suspicion of terrorism were found dead in their police cells.

They were reported to be among 25 suspects from the ethnic Fula community who were being held in the town of Fada N'Gourma.

Burkina Faso's security forces as well as vigilante groups have been accused of killing Fula civilians in revenge after jihadist violence.

Human rights activists say a Fula teacher was found dead two weeks ago at a police station in the capital, Ouagadougou, and several Fula have recently disappeared.