Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed his shock and outrage at the killing of more than 100 people in Burkina Faso on Saturday in one of the country’s deadliest attacks in years.

Seven children are believed to be among the victims, according to the UN, while the total number of deaths is unclear.

In in a statement late on Saturday, Guterres condemned the “heinous” attack and called on the international community to step up its support in the fight against violent extremism.

The identity and motive of the attackers, who targeted a village in the province of Yagha, is unclear. Several armed groups are active in the Sahel region, which stretches south of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.

Some of these militant groups have pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State extremist organizations.

While Burkina Faso had long been spared attacks, their frequency has increased significantly since 2015. According to the United Nations, more than 1.2 million people are now refugees in their own country.

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