‘Dozens’ Dead in Week of Burkina Attacks: Security Sources

At least four suspected jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso have killed dozens of soldiers and civilians in a week, security and local sources told AFP on Sunday.

They said the attacks have targeted military contingents since last Sunday, leaving “dozens dead” mostly in the restive north of the country.

One local source said “a large group of heavily armed terrorists attacked the military base at Nouna” in the northwest on Saturday, with the clash leaving “several victims,” both military and civilian.

A security source contacted by AFP confirmed an attack that was repelled and added that “another almost simultaneous attack targeted another northern detachment” but had likewise been beaten back.

The sources said two other attacks on military bases took place on December 24.

“A large-scale attack targeted the Solle detachment. Several casualties were recorded… but the bravery and response (of troops) made it possible to repel the attackers,” a security source told AFP, adding the jihadists had been targeted by air strikes as they retreated.

That attack has been claimed by the GSIM jihadist alliance linked to Al-Qaeda. The group claimed it killed around 60 soldiers.

Also on December 24, according to a security source, a gendarmerie base was hit at Gorgadji in the northern Sahel region by a sizeable group of fighters who arrived on motorcycles.

The military government that took power in Burkina Faso following a September 2022 coup rarely comments on tolls from suspected jihadist attacks.

However, state television reported that “more than 30 terrorists were killed,” adding that the army had destroyed three jihadist bases discovered in the northwest.

In a televised New Year’s address on Sunday, Captain Ibrahim Traore, head of Burkina’s military rulers, said that in 2024 “we are going to continue our efforts to take back control of territory and step up the fight” against the insurgents.

Burkina has been caught for several years in a spiral of jihadist violence perpetrated by groups affiliated with the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda, which were already hitting neighboring Mali and Niger.

Traore also announced the creation of a new “rapid interaction brigade” in the fight against the jihadists, which since 2015 has seen more than 17,000 soldiers and civilians killed.

On Saturday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it was concerned about “a deterioration of the security situation in Burkina Faso,” while also urging the “immediate release” of political and civil society leaders detained in recent weeks.

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