Burkina Faso suspends more international news media


A camera crew records proceedings during the Madaraka Day Celebrations at Moi Stadium in Embu, Kenya. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Burkina Faso has suspended several international news organisations, some of them for an indefinite period, said a statement from communications regulator the CSC.

Among those named in the weekend order are French newspaper Le Monde, British publication The Guardian, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and French broadcaster TV5 Monde.

They were suspended for reporting on a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that accused the army of attacks on civilians in its battle against jihadists.

The other news media named in the latest statement, dated Saturday, were French regional newspaper Ouest-France, APAnews and Agence Ecofin.

Already on Thursday, the CSC announced it had directed internet service providers to suspend access to the BBC, VOA and Human Rights Watch from Burkinabe territory for two weeks.

The military rulers of Burkina Faso have dismissed as "baseless" the claims by HRW that its soldiers had killed at least 223 villagers in two attacks on February 25.

"The killings at Nodin and Soro led to the opening of a legal inquiry," communications minister Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo said in a statement late on Saturday.

He expressed his surprise that "while this inquiry is underway to establish the facts and identify the authors, HRW has been able, with boundless imagination, to identify 'the guilty' and pronounce its verdict".

HRW described the massacre as "among the worst army abuse in Burkina Faso since 2015".

"These mass killings... appear to be part of a widespread military campaign against civilians accused of collaborating with Islamist armed groups, and may amount to crimes against humanity," the New York-based group said on Thursday.

According to the Burkina statement, "The media campaign orchestrated around these accusations fully shows the unavowed intention ... to discredit our fighting forces."

The West African nation, under military rule since 2022, has been battered by a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

Thousands of civilians, troops and police have been killed, two million people have fled their homes, and anger within the military at the mounting toll sparked two coups in 2022.