Burkina Faso’s security forces have been accused of killing at least 150 civilians, including women and children, in the north of the country, according to a statement by locals from the village of Karma.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, called for a thorough and impartial investigation into the “horrific killing of civilians”.
The Burkinabe prosecutor has already opened an investigation into the incident, but the UN puts the death toll at more than twice that stated by the authorities.
Jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State have been waging a violent insurgency in Burkina Faso for seven years, causing thousands of deaths and leading to two coups last year.
Since Captain Ibrahim Traore seized power in September 2022 during the second coup, rights groups and residents have reported an increase in extrajudicial killings of civilians by security forces.
The most recent attack is one of the deadliest against civilians by the military and comes amid mounting allegations of human rights abuses by the security forces.
Conflict analysts warn that the abuses will create a backlash against Burkina Faso’s junta and drive people into the hands of the jihadists.
“The reported human rights abuses advance the playbook of militants, it gives them talking points against the security forces and helps their recruitment efforts in the north. This is an awful recipe of consequences,” said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory.