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Dozens killed in jihadi attack in Burkina Faso

December 24, 2019

Attacks in Burkina Faso and the Sahel region are frequent, but the death toll in the latest clash was unprecedented. More than one hundred militants, soldiers and civilians were killed.

A Nigerian soldier in Burkina Faso
Image: picture-alliance/Zumapress

Jihadi militants attacked a town in northern Burkina Faso and killed at least 35 civilians, the West African country's president said late Tuesday. 

Fighting between security forces and militants in the town of Arbinda also left 80 militants dead as well as seven soldiers, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said. 

According to a military statement, the jihadis assaulted the town in the country's northern Sahel region after a failed attempt to attack a military detachment in Soum province earlier on Tuesday. The military succeeded in seizing a large number of weapons and motorbikes from the militants.

"As they fled, in a cowardly way the terrorists killed 35 civilians of whom 31 were women," the government said in a separate statement. 

"The heroic action of our soldiers has made it possible to neutralize 80 terrorists," the president said, calling the attack "barbaric."

Karte Burkina Faso Boungou EN

Are G5 Sahel countries fighting a losing battle?

The attack comes just a week after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the region, where thousands of French troops are working with G5 Sahel nations  — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — to fight a number of Islamist insurgent groups.

However, despite a concerted effort by the countries, France and the US, they have collectively failed to gain control of the region.

Militants crossing over the porous border from northern neighbor Mali have been adding to Burkina Faso's homegrown insurgency. In November, an attack on a mining convoy killed 40 people.

Since 2015 violence in Burkina Faso, which has also impacted neighboring Mali and Niger, has killed hundreds of people and displaced more than a half million civilians.

kmm/cw (Reuters,AP)

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