Investigators now believe that last week’s raid by suspected militants in Burkina Faso led to the abduction of around 60 women, girls and babies, a regional prosecutor said.
Earlier reports had suggested that around 50 women had been taken, said a statement from the prosecutor for the northern Djibo region, Issouf Ouedraogo.
But police now think that girls and newborns were among those abducted, he added, announcing the opening of a new investigation on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Burkinabe Movement for Human Rights (MBDH) said it had drawn up a “non-exhaustive” list of 61 women they said had been abducted, which included at least 26 who were under 18.
The MBDH called on the authorities to do more to protect people living in the threatened regions, including ensuring access to humanitarian aid.
The victims of the abductions were seized while out gathering wild fruit and other food, the prosecutor’s statement added.
Tracking down group
Militants regularly prey upon the town of Arbinda, near where the women and children were taken.
It was the increasingly scarce deliveries of supplies to the town that drove the women to venture out and forage.
On Monday, Rodolphe Sorgho, the lieutenant governor of the Sahel region, said search teams were operating on the ground and in the air to try to trace the group.
Militants from both Daesh and Al Qaeda have been raiding Burkina Faso, particularly the northern half of the country, since 2015.
During that period, their attacks have claimed the lives of thousands and driven at least two million others to flee their homes.