By Vatican News staff writer
At least 80 people were killed in a deadly attack on civilians and military personnel in northern Burkina Faso, authorities said Thursday.
The attack occurred on Wednesday when Islamist militants raided a joint convoy of civilians, soldiers and army auxiliary members near the town of Gorgadji, in the latest instance of a spate of violent attacks in West Africa’s Sahel region.
The latest reports say that 59 civilians, 6 army auxiliary members and 15 soldiers were killed in the attack, an increase from an initial death toll put at 47 on Wednesday. Security forces said that at least 80 militants were also killed.
Burkinabe President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore has declared three days of national mourning for the victims and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast throughout the country.
Conflict-ridden West-African Sahel
Wednesday’s attack is part of a series of violent incidents in the Sahel across West Africa. A region of particular focus of jihadist attacks has been the “three-border” zone where Burkina Faso meets Niger and Mali. The vast arid strip of land along the southern edge of the Sahara desert has been made increasingly ungovernable by the activities of armed Islamist militants in spite of the presence of UN and regional troops.
Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been battling increasingly frequent attacks from extremist Islamist groups. The violence has been further fueled by intercommunal clashes that have left thousands dead and has forced millions of people to flee their homes.
Earlier this month, on 4 August, 30 people, including 11 civilians were killed in attacks by suspected jihadists in northern Burkina Faso, near the border with Niger. On 9 August also, 12 soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in Burkina Faso’s Northwest, near the border with Mali.
Overnight on June 4-5, gunmen killed over 132 people, including children in another attack in the northeast village of Solhan, in Burkina Faso’s deadliest attack since the insurgency began.