At least 24 people including civilian defense volunteers were killed Tuesday in two attacks by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, security and local sources told AFP Wednesday.
The deadliest attack took place in a village in Bittou, near the Togolese and Ghanaian borders, according to one local official, who said 16 auxiliary soldiers and four civilians were killed.
He said that several were still missing.
“More than a dozen terrorists were killed in response to the attack,” he added.
An official in the volunteer militia confirmed the attack and said at least another four volunteers had been killed during a second clash in the same region.
On Wednesday, several hundred people demonstrated in Bittou, calling for better security protection, according to residents contacted by AFP.
Since their creation in December 2019, the volunteer militia forces have faced heavy tolls in the country’s fight against jihadist groups.
Captain Ibrahim Traore, Burkina’s transitional president, has declared a goal of recapturing the 40 percent of the territory which is controlled by jihadists.
He signed a decree Wednesday declaring a “general mobilization” for one year to enable men of over 18 years of age to be requisitioned if needed.
The military junta announced the move last week to give the state “all necessary means” to combat a string of jihadist attacks since the start of this year.
The decree states that over 18-year-olds who are not in the armed forces and are physically fit will be “called to enlist according to the needs expressed by the competent authorities.”
One of the decree’s 14 articles also says people can organize themselves under the supervision of the security and defense forces “to defend their locality against all forms of threats including terrorist groups.”
The government had already announced a plan in February to recruit 5,000 additional soldiers to battle the insurgency that has gripped one of the world’s poorest countries since 2015.
Last week, the defense minister also launched a call for current and retired military personnel to hand in unused uniforms to help outfit army combatants.
The violence has left more than 10,000 people dead, according to non-governmental aid groups, and displaced two million people from their homes.
On Sunday, officials said at least 32 defense volunteers and 10 soldiers died in suspected jihadist attacks in the country’s insurgency-hit north.