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Thousands fled violence after Burkina Faso massacre: UN

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Thousands have fled their homes in Solhan village to neighboring villages. (Photo by AFP)

More than 3,300 people have fled their homes in a village in northern Burkina Faso following the country's worst massacre in six years, the United Nations said.

The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that thousands of children were among those who fled Solhan village, near the border with Niger and Mali, after Takfiri terrorists stormed the village Friday night and massacred civilians.

Babar Baloch, the spokesman of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said at least 138 men, women and children were "executed" in the attack, while local sources have put the death toll at about 160.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric previously said that his boss was "outraged" by the massacre.

Dujarric said in a statement that Guterres "strongly condemns the heinous attack and underscores the urgent need for the international community to redouble support to member states in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human toll."

The massacre was the deadliest attack since violence erupted in the West African country in 2015.

The slaughter followed the murder of 14 people late Friday in the village of Tadaryat in the same region, where assailants affiliated with al-Qaeda and Daesh have been targeting civilians and soldiers.

"Fearing for their lives, over 3,300 people fled to the nearby villages of Sebba and Sampelga, among them more than 2,000 children and over 500 women," Baloch told journalists in Geneva.

"They arrived with few or no belongings," he said, adding that most "were generously welcomed by local families who are sharing what little they have."

Baloch stated that the new arrivals were desperately in need of water, sanitation, and shelter, as well as basic help and medical care.

UNHCR and its partners were constructing 200 shelters and providing basic support, but according to Baloch, more resources were required to scale up the response.

The UN spokesperson also addressed a recent incident in which gunmen opened fire on UNHCR vehicles near the Goudoubo camp housing some 12,200 Malian refugees and asylum seekers.

While no one was hurt in the attack, he warned that "growing insecurity and the presence of armed groups" in numerous districts of Burkina Faso are progressively impeding the delivery of aid and safety for those in need.

Baloch also said that UNHCR "calls for concerted action to reinforce the protection of civilians and reminds all parties that humanitarian organizations are carrying out life-saving interventions in an independent and impartial manner."

According to UNHCR data, violence in Burkina Faso has driven more than 1.2 million people to evacuate their homes since 2019.

According to Baloch, over 150,000 people - 84 percent of them being women and children -have become internally displaced in the country since the beginning of this year.

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