Extremist attacks kill at least 20 people in Burkina Faso
By Vatican News staff writer
Gunmen have killed at least 19 gendarmes and a civilian in an attack early Sunday in northern Burkina Faso, authorities have said.
The pre-dawn attack took place in Inata town, Soum province, near Burkina Faso’s border with Mali, where the country has been battling armed groups for years.
In a broadcast on national television on Sunday, Burkina Faso Security Minister Maxime Kone said the attack targeted a detachment of the Inata gendarmerie. He noted that the forces kept their position during the fighting and 22 survivors had been found, while a search was underway for others.
Kone also added that the death toll was provisional, amid fears that the number may rise. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Insecurity in the Sahel
The attack is the latest in a series of violent incidents in the Sahel’s volatile tri-border region, which straddles the frontiers of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali. For years, the vast arid area has been over-run by jihadi groups with links to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.
The conflict in the region has left thousands of people dead and forced millions to flee for their lives, despite the presence of thousands of United Nations, regional and western troops, supported by the efforts of governments seeking to restore peace to the area.
Sunday’s attack came two days after another assault in which unidentified assailants killed seven police officers and wounded five more in northern Burkina Faso. The officers were attacked while on a security mission near Alkoma, between the towns of Dori and Essakane in the far-north Sahel region.
In early November, another attack by suspected jihadists on Adab-Dab - a village in Niger close to the border between Burkina Faso and Mali - left at least 69 people killed and many others injured.
The presence of the extremist jihadist fighters in the area feeds on long-standing tensions in the local ethnic communities, some of which have formed armed self-defense groups. Civilians caught in the middle are often forced to flee to other areas for safety.