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Deadliest attack: 132 villagers killed by gunmen

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At least 132 people were killed Friday night in a “barbaric attack” by gunmen targeting a village in north-eastern Burkina Faso, government spokesperson, Ousseni Tamboura said on Saturday.

The death toll was higher than the 88 recorded in the massacre of villagers in Nigeria’s Kebbi state on Thursday.

President Rock Kabore initially said 100 people were killed by the terrorists.

He said he had ordered three days of national mourning over the attack on the village of Solhan in the conflict-ridden Sahel region.

Security forces were already en route to track down the perpetrators behind the “shameful” act, he added in the statement on Facebook.

There was no information about the attackers’ motive or identity.

It was the deadliest attack in Burkina Faso in years, and according to the AIB state news agency, the number of victims may still rise.

Updated report confirmed the death toll of 132, with another 40 wounded.

The United Nations said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was outraged by the attack, whose victims included seven children.

The European Union condemned what it called “terrorist attacks.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said everything possible needed to be done to ensure the perpetrators were held accountable and reiterated the bloc’s commitment to fight insecurity in the region.

Borrell said at least 14 people were killed by armed gunmen in Oudalan province, also in the Sahel region, around the same time.

Despite the presence of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers, attacks by jihadists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in West Africa’s Sahel region have risen sharply since the start of the year, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, with civilians bearing the brunt.

The violence in Burkina Faso has displaced more than 1.14 million people in just over two years, while the poor, arid country is hosting some 20,000 refugees from neighbouring Mali. read more

The latest attack pushes the number killed by armed Islamists in the Sahel region to over 500 since January, according to Human Rights Watch’s West Africa director, Corinne Dufka.

“The dynamic is the jihadists come in, they overpower the civil defence post and engage in collective punishment against the rest of the village – it’s a pattern we’ve seen everywhere this year,” Dufka said.

In March, attackers killed 137 people in coordinated raids on villages in southwestern Niger

Several terrorist groups are active in the Sahel, some of which have pledged allegiance to the Islamist militias al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Burkina Faso, which was long spared from attacks, has seen a significant increase in terrorist violence since 2015.

*This report was updated with death toll increasing from 100 to 132.

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