Terrorist Attack in Burkina Faso Kills 80 People
Burkina Faso’s president declared three days of national mourning after suspected terrorists killed 80 people, including 59 civilians, in an attack in the north of the country.
The attack was the latest bloodshed in an area with high levels of extremist violence.
The assault on Wednesday near the town of Gorgadji also left six pro-government militants and 15 military police dead, the government and the military said on Thursday. The initial death toll was put at 47 on Wednesday.
The soldiers and militia had been guarding civilians setting off for Arbinda, another town in northern Burkina. In an ensuing gun battle, security forces killed 58 “terrorists” and put the rest to flight, according to the government. Nineteen people were also wounded, it said. “Rescue and relief operations are continuing,” it added.
The area is in the notorious “three-border” zone where Burkina Faso meets Mali and Niger, a focus of the extremist violence that plagues the wider Sahel region of West Africa.
It was the third major attack on Burkinabe soldiers in the past two weeks, including one on 4 August near the Niger border, which killed 30 people, including 11 civilians.
The president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, declared three days of national mourning from Thursday for the victims of the latest attack, according to an official decree.
Flags would be flown at half-mast from public buildings and festivities banned during the period, it said.
Burkina Faso, a poor country in the arid sub-Saharan Sahel region, has since 2015 been battling increasingly frequent and deadly attacks by terrorist groups affiliated with Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’] and al-Qaida.
On 4 and 5 June, gunmen killed at least 132 people, including children, in the north-east village of Solhan, Burkina’s deadliest attack in the history of the insurgency.
Raids and ambushes have been concentrated in the north and east, close to the borders with Mali and Niger, both of which have also faced deadly violence by terrorists. These attacks along with intercommunal violence have left more than 1,400 people dead and forced 1.3 million to flee their homes, according to official estimates.
Terrorists linked to al-Qaida emerged in northern Mali in 2012, prompting French military intervention. After being scattered, the terrorists regrouped and spread to neighboring countries