Jihadist violence emptied an entire village of nearly 8,000 people in northern Burkina Faso over the weekend, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Wednesday.
Roughly 7,600 people fled the village of Solhan in Yagha province this week for Sebba, the capital of Yagha, located nine miles away, according to RFI. Others headed to the nearby village of Sampelga, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Solhan “has been completely emptied of people,” Burkina Faso Communications Minister Ousseni Tamboura told reporters on June 9. The displaced people from Solhan “include more than 2,000 children” the UNHCR reported on June 8.
A local government official in Yagha province told RFI on June 9 that “most of those who left Solhan, near the border with Niger, had already been fleeing jihadist violence, including in the Mansila district to the west.”
Jihadist terrorists stormed the village of Solhan on June 5, killing at least 138 people and seriously wounding 40 others, though “local sources put the death toll higher,” according to RFI. The attack was the deadliest in Burkina Faso by jihadists since Islamist terrorists launched an insurgency in the country in 2015.
The jihadists “burned almost everything [in Solhan], houses, the market, the school and the dispensary,” a local government official told RFI on June 9.
“The assailants arrived at around 2:00 am on Saturday morning on motorbikes and targeted a position of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Motherland (VDP), an anti-jihadist civilian defence force which backs the [Burkina Faso] national army,” RFI reported on June 6.
“They pillaged the town, then burnt cars and shops before escaping several hours before national security forces arrived,” the mayor of Sebba, Hamadi Boubakar, told reporters on June 6.
Solhan had an established civil defense force because it has previously suffered jihadist terror attacks. The village is located near Burkina Faso’s borders with Mali and Niger, where Islamist terrorists linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State regularly target civilians and soldiers.
Burkina Faso has struggled to contain Islamist violence across its northern region since 2015 when jihadist terrorist groups including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) launched an Islamist insurgency in the country. The terror attacks first sprouted in northern Burkina Faso near the country’s border with Mali, but have since spread to the country’s east. An estimated 1,400 people have died from jihadist terrorism in Burkina Faso since the insurgency began while more than one million people have been displaced by the violence.