Five Burkina Faso gendarmes killed as ‘terrorists’ attack Oursi in the Sahel region

Five Burkina Faso gendarmes were killed in a ‘terrorist’ attack at Oursi in the Sahel region in the country’s north on Tuesday, February 5, in what the armed forces said was a response to operations it had carried out the previous day in which 146 “terrorists” were killed.

On Tuesday morning, a detachment from the Northern Security Forces Group (GFSN) at Oursi in Oudalan province in the Sahel Region was attacked by “terrorists,” Colonel Major Lamoussa Fofana Director of Communications and Public Relations of the Armed Forces said in a statement.

Fofana said the attack was repelled, and in a counter-offensive, the Defense and Security Forces ‘neutralized’ 21 militants.

Five gendarmes “fell during the fighting” and three were injured, two of them seriously, Fofana said, adding that clearance operations were ongoing in the area.

On Monday, the armed forces conducted raids in three northern provinces after 14 civilians were killed in attack in Kain in Yatenta province near the Mali border. It said 146 “terrorists” were “neutralized” in the operations in near Kain, and in Loroum and Kossi provinces.

The GFSN is a military force engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Burkina Faso’s restive north, and has been dealing with a significant uptick in attacks by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM).

Tuesday’s attack came on the the same day as a G5 Sahel summit in the capital Ouagadougou, where leaders again called for assistance to the G5 Sahel Joint Force under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.

Wave of 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 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, and to a lesser and to a lesser extent, the west of the country.

There were three major attacks in the north alone last month: on January 10, 12 civilians were killed in the village of Gasseliki; on January 27, 10 civilians were killed in an attack on Sikire; and on January 28, four soldiers died in a massive attack in Nassoumbou. French fighter jets were deployed after the Nassoumbou attack.

On January 31, at least four soldiers were killed in an attack on a military facility in Kompienbiga, in the east of the country.

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.

According to Infowakat, 208 people were killed in 223 security incidents in 11 of Burkina Faso’s 13 regions in 2018. More than half of the incidents occurred in the Sahel region and almost a quarter in the East region.

On December 31, Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in provinces within seven of the country’s 13 administrative regions after 10 gendarmes were killed near the border with Mali on December 27.

Five days earlier, three soldiers were killed when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb between Fada and Kompienbiga. Four other soldiers were injured.

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