Burkina Faso is declaring a state of emergency in provinces grappling with jihadist violence, Communications Minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said on Monday, December 31.
“The president has decided to declare a state of emergency in certain provinces of Burkina Faso. He has also given instructions for specific security measures across the country,” Dandjinou said after a cabinet meeting that followed a deadly attack on police.
On Thursday, 10 gendarmes were killed and three wounded in an ambush in the northwest of the country, near the border with Mali.
They had been heading to the village of Loroni after a school had been attacked and textbooks torched by armed assailants, a security source told AFP.
On December 22, three soldiers were killed when their vehicle was struck by a roadside IED between Fada and Kompienbiga, the General Staff of the Burkina Faso Armed Forces said. Four other soldiers were injured.
The state of emergency applies to a number of provinces that lie within seven of the country’s 13 administrative regions, Dandjinou said.
The regions are Hauts-Bassins, Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades, North and Sahel, in the west and north of the country, and the East and Centre-East in the east.
Names of the provinces where the state of emergency is to be applied will be made public in a presidential decree, he said.
A state of emergency gives additional powers to the security forces to carry out searches of homes and to restrict freedom of movement.
Officials are struggling to fight the “the diffuse, cross-border nature of the terrorist threat,” Reuters reported government spokesperson Remy Fulgance as saying after the cabinet meeting.
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.
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.
Most attacks are attributed to the jihadist group Ansar ul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Those groups are believed to be responsible for more than 255 deaths since 2015.
The capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times and almost 60 people have died there.
With reporting from AFP