Burkina Faso Govt Suspends BBC, VOA Over Report On Alleged Mass Killings By Army


Burkina Faso’s government has suspended the BBC and US public broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) over their coverage of a report accusing its army of mass killings.

Broadcasts have been stopped and the websites of both organisations banned for two weeks, officials said.

The report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a US-based group, accused the Burkinabè military of massacring at least 223 civilians in February.

The military has been in power in the West African country since the 2022 coup.

It has not commented on the HRW allegations. The army director of communications said he would get back to the BBC if and when they make a statement.

In a statement on Thursday, Burkina Faso’s media regulator warned all media outlets against covering the report, threatening sanctions, state-owned media reported.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The suspension reduces the BBC’s ability to reach audiences with independent and accurate news. We will continue to report on the region in the public interest and without fear or favour.”

In an article on Friday, Voice of America (VOA) said it “stands by its reports about Burkina Faso and intends to continue to fully and fairly cover activities in the country”.

The HRW report alleged that Burkina Faso’s military killed 179 people in Soro and 44 others in the nearby Nondin, villages in the country’s north.

It said the massacre was believed to be retaliation by the military, which accused the villagers of aiding armed Islamist fighters.

HRW called the mass killings the country’s “worst army abuse” in nearly a decade.

Supporters of the military junta have previously criticised the media for reporting alleged atrocities, saying such reports were designed to undermine the morale of armed forces.

Last year the military suspended French daily Le Monde, the Jeune Afrique magazine as well as French TV channels La Chaîne Info (LCI) and France24.

The military seized power promising to end an Islamist insurgency. The violence has however continued to escalate, with more than a third of Burkina Faso controlled by jihadist groups.

Human rights groups, the European Union and the UN have accused Burkina Faso of abuses in its fight against insurgents, including indiscriminate killings and forced disappearances of civilians.