OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso -- Gunmen stormed a cattle market and opened fire in an eastern Burkina Faso village Friday, killing at least 20 people and injuring many others, a local government official said.
The attack in Namoungou village is being investigated, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the eastern region, who urged people to be vigilant and to closely collaborate with the army.
Violence linked to Islamic militants and local defense militias killed nearly 2,000 people in Burkina Faso last year and displaced almost 1 million. Violence in the once peaceful West African nation is on track this year to surpass that of last year, Sahel researcher Heni Nsaibia says.
The eastern region has been particularly hard hit, with attacks increasing almost 75% this year compared with last, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project says. Eleven clashes have already taken place during the first week of August, according to an internal security report for aid workers seen by The Associated Press.
Residents in the region’s last safe haven of Fada N’gourma town, where some tens of thousands of displaced people have also sought refuge, worry the violence is inching closer. Friday’s attack was only 25 kilometers (about 16 miles) away. Jihadists killed a cattle breeder in a village about 15 kilometers away earlier this week, according to residents. Local defense forces are also typically active in the area and have been accused by rights groups of killing civilians they accuse of supporting jihadists.
Analysts warn the unrest is going to get worse.
“With a major humanitarian crisis, a swell in militant activities in multiple parts of the country, coupled with the incompetency of security forces, the picture looks quite grim,” said Laith Alkhouri, an intelligence specialist who researches violent extremism in West Africa.