More than 130 people were killed in the West African country of Burkina Faso, in the most dramatic escalation of violence since the 2016 Jihadist takeover of the West African nation.
The most recent attack took place in Solhan in the Sahel's Yagha province near the tri-state border with Mali and Niger.
Factions Linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State
"It is clear that militant groups have shifted up gears to aggravate the situation in Burkina Faso, and moved their efforts to areas outside the immediate reach of the French-led counter-terrorism coalition fighting them in the tri-state border region," Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, told the Associated Press.
No terror group has claimed the responsibility for the attack on unarmed villagers but jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State have been on a rampage in the country for about five years.
More than one million people have so far fled the violence. Scores of women and children were among the dead in the attacks on Friday.
The President of Burkina Faso, which was once a rare success story of stability in West Africa, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, termed the latest attack "barbaric". He said the people of the country "must remain united and solid against these obscurantist forces".
UN Chief Outraged
They militants burned homes and the village market and carried out 'executions' at night, said the government, which announced a three-day mourning.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said offered "full support" to Burkina Faso and said the world body was was "outraged" by the killings.
The UN Chief "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 official spokesman said in a statement.
What's Happening in Burkina Faso?
Burkina Faso was a haven of relative peace until the beginning of the last decade. The fall of of the northern regions of neighboring Mali to Islamist extremists in 2012 marked the beginning og the deterioration in Burkina Faso.
According to the Human Rights Watch, a lose array of Islamist militant outfits have been pushing separatist agenda in the country and launching dastardly attacks. They include Ansaroul Islam, founded in late 2016 by BurkinabÃ¨ Islamic preacher Malam Ibrahim Dicko and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its affiliates. The Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM); and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)" are also active in the region, besides a host of armed Islamist groups with 'shifting and overlapping allegiances'.
The jihadist violence is marked by its brutality. People are killed execution style, mostly decapitated in public after being termed informants for the government. "Many of the men were executed in their homes, a few had their throats cuts and one was decapitated," HRW said in a report.