Eight suspected jihadists were killed and another 38 captured in a joint operation by Burkinabe and Ivorian forces near the two countries’ shared border, the Ivory Coast army said Sunday.
The captured men — 24 in Burkina Faso and 14 in Ivory Coast — were handed over to intelligence services, a source at Ivorian army headquarters told AFP. A “terrorist base” was destroyed at Alidougou in Burkina Faso, the source added. Arms, ammunition, USB keys, and cell phones were also seized during the operation, the source said.
Operation “Comoe,” named after a river that flows through the two west African countries, was launched in early May, the source said, praising the “perfect coordination between the two armies.”
This joint operation, presented on Saturday by the two armies’ top commanders as the first of its kind, took place northeast of the Ivorian town of Ferkessedougou and south of Banfora in Burkina Faso.
On Saturday, a Burkinabe security source said the entire operation had been carried out in Ivory Coast.
But local people told an AFP journalist that the fighting took place around the villages of Tinadalla and Diambeh north of Kong in the northeast of Ivory Coast. They spoke of a considerable military presence there.
Deadly Burkina Faso Clash
One villager from Tindalla said suspicious men had been in the zone for more than a month, coming and going across the border with Burkina Faso.
The Ivorian army source said Sunday that “no terrorist base exists on Ivorian territory which may have served as a zone of refuge during previous offensives” by the Burkinabe army. A Burkina Faso military source told AFP that a Burkinabe soldier had been wounded and hospitalized in Korhogo, in northern Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile in a separate battle in Burkina Faso, troops killed 13 “jihadists” in the northern province of Soum, Burkinabe security sources told AFP Sunday.
The clash happened on Saturday as the soldiers were on reconnaissance in the province, said one source. “Thirteen jihadists have been killed by the units, who reacted promptly to enemy contact,” the source added. They put their opponents to flight and seized several vehicles and weapons, said the source.
Over the past week, there has been a series of deadly clashes between Burkinabe soldiers and gendarmes fighting jihadists on their territory. The presence of Islamist fighters to the north of Ivory Coast’s Comoe national park was detected more than a year ago.
Security sources say they are jihadists operating in Burkina Faso who shelter in Ivory Coast.
Jihadist violence in Burkina Faso has claimed nearly 900 lives since 2015.