Twenty-five civilians, most of them people displaced by jihadist violence, have been killed in an ambush in central-northern Burkina Faso, the UN’s refugee agency said on Wednesday.
The attack took place on Sunday night nine kilometres (five miles) from the town of Pissila in Sanmatenga province, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a press release.
An armed group stopped a convoy carrying 46 people, separated out the men and killed them, except for one who was left for dead.
They then released the women and children, who managed to reach Pissila to raise the alarm.
The Burkinabe government did not react officially to the statement. Sources in the region confirmed that an attack had taken place, but gave a lower toll.
“The attack occurred on Sunday evening, but it was on Monday morning that about 25 bodies were found, near the site of the attack,” said one official.
The fatalities were from the villages of Wintokuilga and Tang-kienga, close to Pissila, he said.
A humanitarian worker in the town of Kaya said the casualties were “internally displaced people who were returning home” when they were ambushed.
“We still don’t know the exact number of victims, because there are still people listed missing,” the aid worker said.
“We are heartbroken by news of this brutal and callous act,” Ioli Kimyaci, UNHCR’s representative in Burkina Faso, said.
“Innocent civilians are seeking safety but instead are paying with their lives with alarming frequency.”
Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, is being battered by a jihadist insurgency that came in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
More than 1,100 people have died and more than a million people have fled their homes.
According to UN figures, around 4,000 people died from violence in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso last year.