Five civilian fighters assisting Burkina Faso security forces against a jihadist insurgency were killed in an attack, a local elected official said Wednesday, as the country was awaiting the outcome of a presidential election.
Armed individuals on Tuesday attacked the Anra artisanal gold mine in the village of Pelhoure in the north of the country, killing five militia with the Volunteers for the Defence of the Nation (VDP), the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Several other VDP members were missing, the official said.
A VDP leader confirmed the attack to AFP but did not give a death toll.
Formed in November, the VDP comprises civilian volunteers who help the army in their uphill battle against the various jihadist groups operating in the country.
They receive 14 days’ training and are then sent out on patrols and surveillance missions, equipped with light arms.
More than 100 have been killed in combat since January 2020.
The attack occurred two days after the presidential and legislative elections on Sunday, the results of which the country is still awaiting.
Because of the jihadist threat, the elections could not take place in at least one-fifth of the territory, depriving as many as 350,000 people of the vote according to the electoral commission.
The north of Burkina Faso is most affected by jihadist violence, which has claimed at least 1,200 lives and forced around a million people to flee their homes.
Gold has become a strategic economic sector for the poor, landlocked West African country of 20 million people whose main export used to be cotton.
Gold mining has also become a welcome source of funding for jihadists, according to the Burkina Economic and Social Observatory.