The worst massacre that killed more than 130 people in northeast Burkina Faso this month was carried out mostly by children between the ages of 12 and 14, the United Nations and the government said.
On June 4, Armed assailants stormed the village of Solhan, shooting villagers and setting fire to their homes.
The country’s government said the majority of the attackers were children.
The attackers had struck during the night, killing residents of the village of Solhan in Yagha province, bordering Niger. They also burned homes and the market, the government said in a statement.
There has been frequent attacks by by jihadists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in West Africa’s Sahel region, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, despite the presence of thousands of UN peacekeepers in the region.
“We strongly condemn the recruitment of children and adolescents by non-state armed groups. This is a grave violation of their fundamental rights,” the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said in a statement on Thursday.
The violence in Burkina Faso has displaced more than 1.14 million people in just over two years, while the poor, arid country is hosting some 20,000 refugees from neighbouring Mali.
According to Human Rights Watch’s West Africa director, Corinne Dufka, said the latest attack pushes the number killed by armed Islamists in the Sahel region to over 500 since January.
In March, attackers killed 137 people in coordinated raids on villages in southwestern Niger.
(With inputs from wionews and reuters)