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Kaya in northern Burkina Faso. Photo: Giles Clarke via Getty Images

A group of young boys helped carry out an attack in Burkina Faso that killed at least 138 people earlier this month, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: It was one of the deadliest massacres in years in the West African country, which has struggled to hold off multiple insurgencies, including from groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, per the Washington Post.

Driving the news: The attack in the northeastern village of Solhan was mostly perpetrated by children between the ages of 12 and 14, government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura told reporters this week.

  • It was unclear which group instigated the attack. Officials did not offer further details.

What they're saying: "We are alarmed by the presence of children within armed groups," Sandra Lattouf, UNICEF's Burkina Faso representative, said in a statement to the Post. "While living among armed actors, children experience unconscionable forms of violence including physical and sexual violence or high level of traumatic experiences."

The big picture: The crisis in Burkina Faso has killed hundreds of people and displaced more than 1.2 million, 61% of whom are children, according to UNICEF said. One in 10 schools have closed, which has impacted over 300,000 children.

  • Experts say the school closures have made children more vulnerable to abuse, trafficking and recruitment into gangs or combat.
  • In 2020, armed groups in Central and West Africa recruited roughly 3,270 children into their ranks — more than a third of the world's documented child soldiers, according to the United Nations.
  • Children abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria have said the extremists threatened to kill anyone who refused to participate in the attacks, the Post reports.

Go deeper

Padilla, Paul introduce bipartisan bill to protect 200,000 "Documented Dreamers"

Sens. Rand Paul (left) and Alex Padilla. Photos: Greg Nash-Pool (left) and Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that seeks to provide a pathway to citizenship for the country's 200,000 "Documented Dreamers."

Why it matters: Documented Dreamers are children of long-term visa holders who often wait years for a green card and face deportation if they don't receive legal immigration status after turning 21, when they lose dependent status.

48 mins ago - World

Pope Francis urges bishops to listen to survivors of sexual abuse

Pope Francis rides his Pope mobile through a crowd of pilgrims before holding an open-air mass on September 15, 2021 in Sastin, Slovakia. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday urged European bishops to listen to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, saying "these important discussions truly touch the future of the church," AP reports.

Driving the news: Francis spoke in a video message to Central and Eastern European bishops who are convening in Poland for a four-day child protection conference beginning on Sunday.

Students vandalize and steal from schools for viral TikTok challenge

TikTok logo displayed on a phone screen in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A viral TikTok challenge is leading students nationwide to shatter mirrors, steal fire alarms and intentionally clog toilets, The Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Dubbed the the “Devious Licks challenge, students are showing off their "devious licks" on TikTok — with a sped-up version of "Ski Ski BasedGod" by rapper Lil’ B playing in the background.