Burkina Faso soldier killed in Soum ambush

A Burkina Faso soldier and five assailants were killed in an ambush on an army patrol in Soum province on Thursday, September 5, security sources said, as the country grapples an increasingly violent Islamist insurgency.

A source told AFP that a military patrol was ambushed in Diomsogui in the Kelbo department of Soum province in the Sahel region.

“One soldier was killed and two others wounded in the attack,” the source said. “In response, five assailants were shot dead and the rest of the armed group was routed.”

A large cache of weapons was also recovered, a second source added.

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

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

Most attacks are attributed to the jihadist group Ansar ul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Islamic State-affiliated groups.

Since May, Islamic State has attributed insurgent activities in the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area to its West Africa Province affiliate, rather than to what was previously known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. In a June 15 ISIS propaganda video, ISWAP militants purportedly in Burkina Faso were shown reaffirming their pledge of allegiance to ISIS.

On August 30, one soldier was injured in an attack in Tongomayel, around 35 km (22 miles) northeast of Diomsogui, near Soum province capital Djibo. In an August 31 statement, JNIM said its fighters carried out the Tongomayel attack, claiming they captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition and later blew up the barracks. One JNIM fighter was injured in the attack, statement said.

On Thursday, JNIM released images showing a wide range of weapons, ammunition, mobile phones, uniform items and other equipment that the group said were captured during the Tongomayel attack.

That came just weeks after Burkina Faso’s worst-ever insurgent attack. On August 19, 24 soldiers were killed and seven others injured in Koutougou, around 65 km northeast of Tongomayel. A security source told AFP that “several dozen terrorists” on motorbikes and in pickup trucks carried out the attack, which they said was “well-prepared and coordinated by several terrorist groups.”

With reporting from AFP

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