Three soldiers died on Saturday, December 22, when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in eastern Burkina Faso, where armed Islamist insurgents have stepped up attacks, security sources told AFP.
“A military vehicle hit a homemade explosive planted by suspected terrorists,” on the road between Fada and Pama, a source said.
“A lieutenant and two enlisted men died,” the source said, adding that four other soldiers were injured and were taken to hospital.
The General Staff of the Burkina Faso Armed Forces later confirmed that three soldiers were killed and four injured when their vehicle was struck by the IED between Fada and Kompienbiga.
The Menastream risk consultancy tweeted that the attack, which it said left at least three dead and four wounded, occurred near Kompienbiga in Kompienga province. It also tweeted an image of an Otokar Cobra armored personnel carrier that was destroyed in the attack.
#BurkinaFaso: Remains of the Burkinabe army vehicle (Otokar Cobra) struck by an IED near Kompienbiga pic.twitter.com/kWLY88j3Wk
— MENASTREAM (@MENASTREAM) December 22, 2018
The Turkey-built Otokar Cobra is a family of light armored vehicles which incorporate some mechanical components of the American Humvee. It can be fitted with a turret produced by the Israel’s Rafael, and can carry a 12.7mm machine gun, 20mm cannon, anti-tank guided missiles, or surface-to-air missiles.
It has a monocoque steel v-hull to protect against small arms fire and shrapnel, and to a lesser degree against mines and IEDs.
Four Cobras featured in the Burkina Faso’s December 11 Independence Day parade in Manga, Jane’s reported. A military source told Jane’s that Cobras deliveries to Burkina Faso began in September, and several are deployed in the East Region.
Attacks in Burkina Faso’s East region
One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has been battling an escalating wave of attacks over the last three years, beginning in the North region near the border with Mali.
Attacks have spread to the East region, near the border with Togo, Benin and Niger.
The East region was hit with an upsurge in violence in September, with improvised explosive device attacks on vehicles becoming increasingly frequent in Gourma, Kompienga and Komondjari provinces.
Pama is the largest town in Kompienga province, and Gayéri the largest in Komondjari province. Fada N’Gourma in Gourma province is the largest town in the region.
Violence reduced after Burkinabe and French airstrikes in September and October, but there have been some incidents since November.
On December 3, six alleged terrorists were shot dead by police near Bougui, around 10 km (6 miles) from Fada N’Gourma. Two of the people killed had been arrested earlier and were in handcuffs in a police vehicle.
On November 30, four police officers and a civilian were killed near Boungou when their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb and gun attack.
In early October, the French armed forces confirmed that helicopters were used in operations in the East Region, only the second time that French aerial forces had been used in Burkina Faso.
On October 6, a Burkina Faso soldier was killed and another injured after a military vehicle was hit in a roadside bomb attack near Kabonga, around 100 km (62 miles) from Fada N’Gourma. Aircraft later struck targets in the forests around Pama.
In September, Burkina Faso’s armed forces conducted air strikes and clearance operations in the Pama and Gayeri areas in the East Region. The military said “terrorist bases” were destroyed in the operations.
According to a report released in late September, jihadist attacks have claimed 229 lives in the country since 2015.
President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré said in September that additional security measures would be unveiled to “resume the initiative” throughout Burkina Faso “to eradicate the curse of terrorism.” Security forces have detained hundreds of people in connection with attacks.
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With reporting from AFP