‘Terrorist attack’ on Burkina Faso forces in Kompienbiga

The Burkina Faso armed forces confirmed an attack on a military facility in Kompienbiga in the east of the country.

“On 30 January 2019, at around 5:30 p.m., the detachment of Kompienbiga in the province of Kompienga was the target of a terrorist attack,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces said in a Thursday, January 31 release.

One person was injured, the release added.

Kompienbiga is around 15 km (9 miles) from Pama, the largest town in Kompienga province, which borders Benin.

Infowakat reported unnamed sources as saying the attackers, who arrived in a four-wheel drive vehicle and two motorcycles, managed to take control of what it described as an army forward base camp, which they then set on fire.

Radio Omega also said that the facility was burned.

The Menastream risk consultancy tweeted that some soldiers are missing and six military vehicles and five motorbikes were burned.

The Defense Post has been unable to confirm these reports.

Update February 2 the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying “at least (10) soldiers were killed and wounded” and two armored and three other vehicles were burned and some weapons were captured.

The attack comes as intensive preparation for meetings between February 3 and 5 of the Council of Ministers and the Conference of Heads of State of the G5 Sahel is ongoing in the capital Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso takes the chairmanship of the regional organization for 2019.

Its members, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger launched the G5 Sahel joint counter-terrorism force in July 2017 with a mandate to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime and human trafficking in the Sahel area.

The five nations aim to deploy 5,000 troops in the region to work alongside thousands of troops deployed to France’s Operation Barkhane and the United Nations MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali.

An upsurge in attacks in Burkina Faso

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso lies in the heart of the sprawling, impoverished Sahel, on the southern rim of the Sahara.

The country 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.

The East region was hit with a surge in violence in September, with improvised explosive device attacks on vehicles becoming increasingly frequent in Gourma, Kompienga and Komondjari provinces.

Violence reduced after Burkinabe and French airstrikes in September and October, but there were further violent incidents in November and December.

After three soldiers died and four were injured when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb near Kompienbiga on December 22, and 10 gendarmes were killed near the border with Mali on December 27, Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in provinces within seven of the country’s 13 administrative regions.

On January 28, at least four Burkina Faso soldiers were killed and five injured when gunmen raided a military base in Nassoumbou. The French Armed Forces confirmed on January 31 that a Mirage 2000 fighter jet conducted a show of force and Tigre helicopters were also sent to the area. French helicopters later evacuated four injured Burkinabe military personnel.

That attack came after a raid in a village about 100 km (60 miles) to the east, when gunmen attacked Sikire killing 10 people when they opened fire on local residents.

In a similar incident on January 12, 12 people were killed and two injured in an attack in Gasseliki.

US counter-terrorism assistance to G5 Sahel member states almost doubles to $111 million

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