A security source reported that armed men massacred at least 100 villagers in a remote zone of northern Burkina Faso near the border with Niger over the weekend.
The attackers appeared to have spared women and children in the Seytenga district on Saturday night, according to a security source and two other individuals who spoke anonymously on the condition of anonymity.
No party immediately claimed responsibility, although the attack occurred in borders where al Qaeda and Islamic State-affiliated militants are conducting an insurgency.
About 3,000 individuals who fled the attack have arrived in Dori, the capital of the adjacent Sahel region in Burkina Faso, where assistance groups are on the ground, according to an unnamed local official.
There were conflicting reports regarding the death toll. Monday, a security official reported that at least 100 people had perished. A local source who wished to remain anonymous stated that the preliminary count stood at 165.
Lionel Bilgo, a spokesman for the Burkina Faso government, stated that 50 dead had been discovered so far, but that this number is not definitive. He stated that soldiers were going from home to house searching for bodies.
Since 2015, violence related to Islamist insurgents has killed thousands and displaced millions in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
Burkina Faso’s president was overthrown in January by army soldiers enraged by the mounting attacks who swore to strengthen security, but levels of violence have remained high.
The military government’s decision to take 36 months to restore democratic rule is based on security considerations, despite calls from regional leaders to conduct elections sooner.
In a statement released on Monday, the United Nations denounced the attack that “claimed many lives” and urged authorities to bring the perpetrators to account.