The non-governmental organization Amnesty International on Tuesday blamed the army for the massacre in the village of Karma in northern Burkina Faso, which was carried out on April 20 by gunmen wearing the uniforms and insignia of the armed forces, based on testimonies it collected from survivors.

“On the 20th of April in Karma, a village 15 kilometers from Waiguia [βόρεια]elements of the Burkina Faso army entered the community at 07:30,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Soldiers then “rounded up” the villagers, “collected their identity documents” before “starting to shoot them” at point-blank range, killing “147 people”, including “45 children”, in eight neighborhoods of the village, according to the NGO.

The official account of the attack, released by a local prosecutor’s office, said about 60 people were killed by gunfire from men in “the uniforms of our armed forces.” However, non-governmental organization of Burkina Faso spoke of 136 dead in Karma – among them 50 women and 21 children – and another 11 dead in neighboring villages.

Testimonies gathered by Amnesty International from survivors indicate that the massacre was carried out “by the 3rd Battalion of the Rapid Intervention Brigade”. Its members “wore black uniforms, others wore khaki uniforms, some wore helmets, others had their faces covered, they moved in open semi-trucks and motorbikes,” said one of the villagers who survived.

“It was men of the Burkina Faso army who committed the massacre (…) they entered the village with machines,” said another villager, who added that he was able to save his life because he covered himself with the blood of victims.

According to Amnesia, residents of Waiguya, near Karma, said they saw the battalion leave in the direction of Karma village, then return on April 23, before returning to the capital Ouagadougou the following day.

On Thursday, the military regime in Burkina Faso “strongly” condemned the “barbaric” attack in Karma and assured that it would follow “very closely the development of the investigation” carried out by the Ouaiguya prosecutor to solve the case and “all” the responsible to be “accountable”.

“This investigation must be carried out in an impartial and independent manner so that those responsible for war crimes and other serious violations are brought before ordinary criminal law courts,” not military courts, said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s director of the department responsible for for West and Central Africa, according to the NGO announcement.

Burkina Faso, which became the scene of two military coups in 2022, has been grappling since 2015 with the escalating violence of jihadist groups that emerged in Mali and Niger a few years earlier, before their action spread.

The violence of these organizations, which pledge allegiance to either Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State, has claimed the lives of over 10,000 people – civilians and soldiers – in total, according to NGOs, while uprooting some two and a half million civilians, who they became internally displaced.