“The army has reviewed all the houses and so far 50 bodies have been found,” said government spokesman Lionel Bilgo, fearing a “heavier” toll. According to the European Union, the attack “would have caused more than a hundred civilian victims”.

“Relatives have returned to Seytenga, and may have taken bodies away,” Lionel Bilgo explained at a press conference on Monday.

The attack took place overnight from Saturday to Sunday, the government spokesman said.

Seytenga had already been hit on Thursday by a jihadist attack that killed eleven gendarmes.

The Burkinabè army had announced that it had killed around forty jihadists following this attack.

The weekend murders “are retaliation for the actions of the army which have caused bloodletting” within the jihadist groups, said Mr. Bilgo.

“The army is at work,” he said.

According to humanitarian organizations in the north of the country, 3,000 people have been gathered in neighboring towns since Sunday after fleeing Seytenga.

The EU expressed its condemnation, calling for “light to be shed on the circumstances of this killing”. “The method used by the terrorist group responsible for the attack, namely the systematic execution of anyone encountered in the village is appalling,” said the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell in a press release.

– Resumption of attacks –

It is one of the deadliest jihadist attacks since Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba took power in a coup at the end of January.

He then overthrew President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who had become largely unpopular and accused of ineffectiveness against insecurity.

Two attacks had particularly marked the spirits: the deadliest in the history of the country, against the village of Solhan (north-east) in June 2021, which had killed 132 people according to the government and that of Inata (north) in November 2021 where 57 gendarmes had been killed.

This last attack caused an electric shock in the army, which seized power a few weeks later.

After the coming to power of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba, who wanted to make security “his priority”, the attacks of these movements affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State had stalled.

But they have taken over and killed nearly 300 civilians and soldiers in the past three months.

The north and east of the country, bordering Mali and Niger, are the regions most affected by jihadist violence.

On Saturday, several hundred people demonstrated in Pama (east) to denounce the “abandonment” of this part of the country, “besieged” according to them by jihadist groups since last February.

Since February, telephone masts and power lines have been sabotaged by armed jihadist groups, which also control the main axes of the area.

Several municipalities in the north and east such as Djibo, Titao or Madjoari are placed under blockade by jihadists. The army sometimes manages to send supply convoys there.

“Our troops are strained, put under constant pressure,” admitted Lionel Bilgo on Monday.

Since 2015, attacks attributed to jihadists have left more than 2,000 dead and nearly two million displaced in Burkina Faso.