Burkina Faso's government says at least 46 people were killed in intercommunal violence after jihadists attacked a town in the north earlier this week.
Government spokesman Remis Fulgance Dandjino said on state television Friday that jihadists attacked the town of Yirgou on Monday night in an effort to stoke ethnic conflict.
Local authorities initially said that between six and 16 people were killed in the attack and violence that followed. But a witness told VOA's Bambara service dozens of dead bodies had been counted in the area.
“The authorities didn’t visit the places, they’re only checking by phone," said the witness, who asked to remain anonymous because of security concerns. "I was there myself. I counted over 48, and there are places where I did not go.”
The eyewitness also said that many of the victims were from the Fulani ethnic group.
Pictures from Yirgou shared with VOA showed burnt houses.
The witness described scenes where the Koglweogo, a defense organization of the Mossi ethnic group, burned houses belonging to ethnic Fulanis.
"As soon as they enter the houses of the Fulani, they kill the men, they are slaughtered," he said. "There are no more Fulani men left in the villages, only women and children."
The death toll is likely to rise, according to local sources, because bodies are still being found at scattered encampments.