July 8 (UPI) -- The bodies of 180 bodies of men believed to have been killed in mass extrajudicial executions were found in Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch announced Wednesday.
Residents of the town in Djibo in northern Burkina Faso said that the bodies had been left of groups of three to 20 "along major roadways, under bridges and in fields and vacant lots" between November and June, a report by HRW said.
Based on their clothing and physical features, residents believe the majority of the victims were ethnic Fulani or Peuhl men, including relatives and other people known within the city. Many were found blindfolded with bound hands and had been shot.
Most of the bodies were buried between March and April.
HRW Sahel Director Corinne Dufka urged Burkina Faso's government to "uncover who turned Djibo into a 'killing field.'"
"Existing information points toward government security forces, so it's critical to have impartial investigations, evidence properly gathered and families informed about what happened to their loved ones," Dufka said.
HRW interviewed 23 people in the community who said they believed the men were detained by security forces as suspected supporters of Islamist armed groups.
The organization recommended that the Burkina Faso government investigate the killings and prosecute those responsible, place the commanders of the two security force bases on administrative leave, and invite international forensic experts from the United Nations or elsewhere to analyze evidence from the graves.