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Killing Field: Bodies of 180 Men Found in Djibo, West Africa

Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been battling armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) since 2017

The bodies of 180 men believed to have been killed in mass extrajudicial executions were found in Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch announced Wednesday.

Residents of the town in Djibo in northern Burkina Faso said that the bodies had been left of groups of three to 20 “along major roadways, under bridges and in fields and vacant lots” between November and June, a report by HRW released on Wednesday said, saying that the killings were probably carried out by government forces.

Residents believe the majority of the victims were ethnic Fulani or Peuhl men, including relatives and other people known within the city. Many were found blindfolded with bound hands and had been shot.

Most of the bodies were buried between March and April.

“Available evidence suggests government forces were involved in mass extrajudicial executions,” HRW said. It called for the government to hold those responsible to account.

HRW Sahel Director Corinne Dufka urged Burkina Faso’s government to “uncover who turned Djibo into a ‘killing field.'” Djibo is known for its animal market.

Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been battling armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) since 2017.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and almost a million displaced by the conflict, which is also affecting neighbors Niger and Mali.

An earlier report in April said security forces allegedly executed 31 unarmed detainees in Djibo, according to Human Rights Watch.

The men, all from the Fulani ethnic group, were allegedly killed just hours after being arrested during a government counterterrorism operation, the New York-based rights group said.

The incident made “a brutal mockery of a counterterrorism operation that may amount to a war crime and could fuel further atrocities,” said Corinne Dufka, the HRW’s director for the Sahel region.