Officials confirmed on Friday, January 4, that at least 46 civilians were killed during a militant attack in Yirgou village in Barsalogho district (Centre-Nord region) on December 31. Authorities revised an earlier statement indicating six villagers were killed in the initial attack which reportedly aimed to stoke ethnic conflict between the villagers and Fulani herders. The government has not identified which militant group carried out the attack. Further fighting between rival ethnic communities, as well as militant attacks, are possible in Centre-Nord region in the coming days and weeks.
Militants attacked members of the Mossi ethnic community in the central Barsalogho district on the night (local time) of December 31. According to government officials, gunmen on motorbikes attacked the village of Yirgou, killing scores, including the village chief. In retaliation, Yirgou residents killed seven Fulani herders on January 1. The villagers reportedly blamed the herders for sheltering their attacker.
Ethnic violence targeting Fulani herders has become an increasing problem in the Sahel region. Members of the Fulani community have been accused of hiding Islamist terrorists, including fighters from the Al-Qa'ida-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM). JNIM recently claimed responsibility for the December 27 ambush of security forces near Toéni (Sourou province; Boucle du Mouhoun region) that left ten gendarmes dead. In response, a state of emergency was declared in multiple border regions on January 1.
Due to the severe threats of terrorism and kidnapping, individuals present in Burkina Faso - including the capital Ouagadougou - are strongly advised to be discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times, and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.
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