A Burkina Faso human rights group Tuesday reported that 28 people were found shot dead in the town of Nouna in an alleged ethnic killing at the hands of a volunteer militia group.
The Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities (CISC) reported the killings were perpetrated by Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) members. The VDP allegedly killed 21 people, including children, in a part of Nouna mostly inhabited by the minority Fula community. The report revealed that the VDP appears to have targeted “resourceful” or “influential” people in the community. The CISC report also disclosed that similar extrajudicial executions were carried out by the VDP against the community on December 15, 18 and 22.
The VDP is a self-armed militia consisting of armed civilians formed to help the Burkina Faso military fight jihadist extremism. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the groups has been implicated in numerous killings. The Burkina Faso military has carried out extrajudicial killings in the past. In July 2020, the US expressed concern over an HRW report detailing mass graves in north Burkina Faso, where the armed forces were fighting jihadist extremist groups.
The CISC is a human rights group run by Dr. Daouda Diallo, a Martin Ennals Laureate. Diallo documents human rights violations by both government forces and Islamic insurgents.
Burkina Faso has been facing political instability since early 2022. In January, the military overthrew the democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré for his perceived lack of competence in combating the Islamic insurgency. The military instated Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba as president. The Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) and the African Union expelled Burkina Faso following this coup. Damiba was overthrown in another coup in September.