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Dozens killed in Burkina attacks

In this file photo taken on February 03, 2020 Burkina Faso soldiers patrol aboard a pick-up truck on the road from Dori to the Goudebo refugee camp.

In this file photo taken on February 03, 2020 Burkina Faso soldiers patrol aboard a pick-up truck on the road from Dori to the Goudebo refugee camp. | Photo Credit: AFP

Around 40 people, many of them civilian volunteers with the army, have been killed in suspected jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, local sources and security officials said on Monday.

In the northern region of Sahel, around 25 people were killed in two assaults on Saturday, including 13 members of the VDP volunteers, a leader of the force told AFP.

One occurred at Guessel, where "around 20 people, including eight VDP" were killed, while the other took place at Markoye, where five volunteers and one civilian died, the VDP officer said.

In Kompienga, near Burkina Faso's southeastern border with Togo and Benin, about 15 civilians were killed in Namouyouri on Saturday when their convoy was attacked while under VDP escort, a security source in the region said.

A local inhabitant said three VDP volunteers also died in this attack, and called for help for the wounded, which he said numbered nearly a dozen.

In another raid overnight on Saturday, assailants carried out a coordinated attack on police and gendarmes' posts in Faramana, near the frontier with Mali, causing two wounded, a security source said.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has been battered by jihadist raids since 2015, when insurgents began mounting cross-border attacks from Mali.

More than 2,000 people have died and almost two million fled their homes.

Mutinous troops, angered at mounting losses, ousted elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January.

The new strongman, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, says tackling the violence and restoring security is his top priority.

After several weeks of relative calm after the coup, jihadist attacks resumed, and scores of civilians and members of the security forces have died.

Some of the heaviest losses have been suffered by the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP), a civilian auxiliary force set up in December 2019 to take over some basic security duties from the army.

Recruits are given two weeks' military training and then work alongside the military, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.

A security source said there had been a "series of attacks which have mainly targeted Volunteers."

The latest attack came a week after an ambush in the north in which 10 volunteers were killed, along with two civilians.

On May 10, the armed forces said they had killed 50 "terrorists" in two operations in the northwest and southwest of the country.

The jihadist insurgency in the Sahel began in northern Mali in 2012 before spreading to the volatile centre of the country and then into Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.

At a meeting of West African defence chiefs on May 5, Ghana's Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul said that in three years the region had suffered more than 5,300 terror-related attacks claiming around 16,000 lives.

More than 840 attacks took place in the first three months of 2022 alone, he said.

Countries south of the region fear the jihadists are aiming to push to the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.

Last Wednesday, eight soldiers were killed and 13 were wounded on Togo's northern border with Burkina.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 4:14:39 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/dozens-killed-in-burkina-attacks/article65420537.ece