New York Times: When the Soldiers Meant to Protect You Instead Come to Kill
Extremists and vigilantes are killing civilians in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, but so are soldiers, sowing fear and suspicion in a country that had once prided itself on its strong social fabric. We traveled to the country’s volatile far north to investigate the abuses.
KONGOUSSI, Burkina Faso — Market day was in full swing when soldiers sped into the northern town of Taouremba, firing in the air, as their drone buzzed overhead. They herded the men into the central marketplace, residents said, letting the women run home.
A soldier began reading names from a tablet computer, and those who were called forward were told to strip, then tied up with their own clothes and thrown into a pickup truck. When some men tried to hide in the crowd, two informants in hoods and veils pointed them out. One man was shot on the spot.
Later, according to accounts from witnesses and human rights advocates, the bodies of the 13 abducted villagers were dumped just outside of town.
Over the past four years, Burkina Faso has fallen into chaos, with gunmen robbing, killing and threatening some of the poorest citizens in this landlocked West African nation, and causing 850,000 to flee their homes.
Some of the gunmen are terrorists, loosely allied with the Islamic State or Al Qaeda.
Some are bandits.
Some are vigilantes.
It is seldom spoken of, and the government denies it, but some are soldiers in Burkina Faso’s armed forces.
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