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Bassirou Badjo: Burkinabe Activist Falls Victim to Ongoing Wave of Abductions

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OUAGADOUGOU — an activist in Burkina Faso was kidnapped from his office in the capital, a civil society group said, the latest dissident to be abducted in the junta-ruled country.

Bassirou Badjo, an administrator at the General Directorate for National Solidarity and Humanitarian Assistance, DGSAH, was taken from his workplace on Wednesday, grassroots movement Balai Citoyen said. The perpetrators were “individuals presenting themselves as state security agents” who took him to “an unknown destination,” added the grassroots movement.

Since taking power in a 2022 coup, Ibrahim Traore has cracked down on dissent and media, shrinking the civil society space, according to Human Rights Watch. Several leading activists, lawyers and journalists deemed hostile to his regime have been kidnapped or arrested in recent months.

On Tuesday, Balai Citoyen (Citizen’s Broom) said another of its prominent members, columnist Rasmane Zinaba, had been kidnapped, adding he was taken from his home and his whereabouts are unknown. Both Zinaba and Badjo had been given conscription orders to join the military regime’s anti-jihadist fight. At least a dozen activists, journalists and opposition politicians were called up in November last year to participate in the campaign to recapture territory from armed Islamist groups that control roughly half the country, according to HRW. Zinaba had gone to court to have his conscription order cancelled.

Last month, renowned lawyer and Balai Citoyen co-founder Guy Herve Kam was kidnapped in Ouagadougou by men in civilian clothes. Burkina Faso is part of the vast Sahel region, which has been locked in a battle against rising violent extremism since Libya’s civil war in 2011, the Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and the rise of Boko Haram.

When Traore seized power in 2022, it was the country’s second coup in less than a year — both triggered in part by discontent at the government’s failures to quell the jihadist insurgencies that began spilling over from neighboring Mali and Niger in 2015. More than 20,000 people in Burkina Faso have since been killed in the violence, while over two million have been displaced.

Additional source: Voice of Africa