MIlitants surrounded people at Silgadji village market, before separating them into two groups, on Saturday and were still in the area on Monday, a resident in nearby Bourzanga town said, citing accounts from those who had fled.

In this file photo taken on March 2, 2018, troops ride in a vehicle in central Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso after a suspected militant attack in the capital.
In this file photo taken on March 2, 2018, troops ride in a vehicle in central Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso after a suspected militant attack in the capital. (Ludivine Laniepce / AP)

Suspected extremists attacked a busy market in Burkina Faso and killed more than 30 people over the weekend, authorities said, as the West African country's security situation deteriorates.

"We are talking of between 10 and 30 dead" in in the assault, which targeted the village of Silgadji in northern Soum province, said one of the sources, a security official.

The attack was launched on Saturday and militants were still in the area on Monday, a local in nearby Bourzanga town told AFP by phone, citing accounts from those who had fled.

"The terrorists surrounded the people at the village market, before separating them into two groups.

The death toll could be as high as 50, Burkina Faso's national television reported by Monday evening. It was the second attack in northern Burkina Faso in a week that has left dozens dead.

Information about the latest violence in Silgadji was difficult to obtain because the militants reportedly disabled the local phone network before the massacre near the country's troubled border with Mali.

Days earlier, militants killed 36 civilians in a marketplace in neighbouring Sanmatenga province.

The Norwegian Refugee Council warned that as many as 900,000 people could be displaced in the country by April, up from current estimates of 560,000.

Extremist attacks are dramatically escalating in Burkina Faso, with deaths rising from about 80 in 2016 to over 1,800 in 2019, according to the United Nations. Burkina Faso's military has struggled to contain the violence despite training and aid from the French and US militaries in recent years.

Burkina Faso's defence ministry is trying to recruit 2,000 more soldiers, and parliament has approved the use of civilian volunteers in the fight against extremism, a move that has concerned human rights groups.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said during a visit this week the country's humanitarian needs are “enormous.”

“Insecurity and a lack of funding are severely hampering our work,” he said. 

“Donor governments have not understood that this is the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis. We still see a small aid response in a huge human catastrophe.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies