Suspected jihadists attacked a frontier post on Ivory Coast’s border with Burkina Faso overnight, killing around 10 people, security sources said Thursday.
It is the first jihadist assault on Ivorian soil since March 2016, when a raid on the southeastern beach resort of Grand-Bassam left 19 people dead. The raid “targeted an Ivorian frontier post at Kafolo,” where an anti-jihadist operation had just ended, one Ivorian source said, in an account confirmed by a Burkinabe source.
An Ivorian source said 12 people were killed — 11 soldiers and a gendarme — while six people were injured and two were listed as missing. Another Ivorian source put the toll at nine dead, while a Burkinabe source said 10 troops, a gendarme, and an assailant had been killed, and two people were missing.
Security analysts have long worried that a jihadist revolt in the Sahel that began in Mali in 2012 is spreading towards coastal states on the Gulf of Guinea.
Ivory Coast shares a 550-kilometer (340-mile) border with Burkina Faso, where jihadist violence has claimed nearly 1,000 lives and forced 860,000 people from their homes over the past five years.
The latest attack began at around 3 am and took place in the same zone of northeast Ivory Coast where the two countries last month launched a ground-breaking joint operation to flush out jihadists.
“Operation Comoe,” named after a river that flows through the two countries, led to the death of eight suspected jihadists, the capture of 38 others and the destruction of a “terrorist base” at Alidougou in Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast army said on May 24.
The operation was launched after jihadists were spotted last year to the north of Ivory Coast’s Comoe national park. Security sources say they are jihadists operating in Burkina Faso who hole up in Ivory Coast.
The Grand-Bassam attack four years ago was claimed by Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).