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African state suspends BBC and VOA

Burkina Faso banned the outlets for two weeks after coverage of report accusing the army of mass killings

Burkina Faso has suspended the radio broadcasts of UK-funded BBC Africa and US-funded Voice of America (VOA) over their coverage of a report accusing the country’s army of conducting mass executions.

According to authorities cited by media, broadcasts by the two outlets have been taken off air and each organization’s website has been banned for two weeks.

In a report published on Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW), a US-based group, has accused the country’s military forces of “summarily executing” at least 223 civilians, including at least 56 children, in two villages in February. The HRW has called on authorities to investigate the massacres.

According to the report, the Burkinabe army has repeatedly committed mass atrocities against civilians in the name of fighting terrorism. HRW also suggests that the “massacre” appeared to be part of a “widespread military campaign” against civilians accused of collaborating with armed groups.

Burkina Faso’s communication council claimed that HRW’s report contained “peremptory and tendentious” declarations against the army that are likely to create public disorder. It has also warned other media networks against reporting on the story.

Both the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and VOA (Voice of America) said they intend to continue covering events in the country.

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African leaders push for new approach to fighting terrorism

The West African country, a former French colony, is run by a military government led by Captain Ibrahim Traore who seized power in a coup in September 2022, eight months after an earlier military coup had overthrown the democratically elected President Roch Marc Kabore.

Burkina Faso is one of several Sahel nations that have been struggling to contain Al-Qaeda-linked insurgent groups, which have been carrying out regular attacks in several African states. At least 7,800 civilians were killed in the first seven months of 2023 in the Sahel alone, according to figures reported by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).

The African Union (AU) Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat said at a security summit this week that escalating attacks by armed groups in all African regions necessitate greater local-led peacekeeping efforts. The AU called for a more robust counterterrorism strategy, including the deployment of a standby security force to address surging extremist violence across the continent.

April 27, 2024 at 01:43AM

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