At least 30 people were killed by gunmen in eastern Burkina Faso as rebels burned down villagers’ homes and shot them as they tried to escape.
The attack occurred in Kodyel village in the Komandjari province on Monday near the border with Niger, government official Labidi Ouoba told The Associated Press news agency by phone after fleeing the attack.
Rebel fighters surrounded the village and went house to house setting fire to them and killing people, said Ouoba.
“I ran early because the terrorists usually look for authorities. We all pray that peace comes back now in our country. We are tired,″ he said.
Another resident, Mediempo Tandamba, who fled Monday’s attack said about 100 fighters entered the town on motorcycles and pick-up trucks. Four of his brother’s children were killed.
“We are very afraid here today,” said Tandamba.
The attack comes exactly one week after two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist were killed and a Burkinabe soldier went missing when their anti-poaching patrol was ambushed by rebels in the same region. That same day last week, 18 people were killed in Yattakou village in the country’s Sahel region.
Burkina Faso’s ill-equipped army has struggled to contain the spread of violence linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) who have killed thousands and displaced more than one million people.
Last year the government enlisted the help of volunteer militiamen to help the army but they have incurred retaliation by the rebels who attack them and the communities they help.
The rebels killed civilians on Monday because the village provided fighters to the volunteer programme, said Heni Nsaibia, an analyst with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Armed groups have driven religious and ethnic tensions between farming and herding communities in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger to boost recruitment among marginalised communities.
The worsening violence in the wider Sahel region has led to one of the world’s most acute humanitarian crises, UN agencies said last week.
Twenty-nine million people in the Sahel region are in need of aid and protection – an all-time high and five million more than last year, they said.