New attacks in troubled Burkina Faso kill 18

The Morning Mails

New attacks in troubled Burkina Faso kill 18

Eighteen people were killed, two of them volunteer militiamen, in fresh attacks by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, local inhabitants and a security official told AFP Thursday. Seven civilians were killed and four were wounded on Monday in the village of Toabin in central-eastern Boulgou province, locals said. Eleven people died the same day in two attacks in the northern province of Loroum, said other sources. An official in the VDP volunteer militia said the organisation’s local headquarters in Transaligo had come under heavy fire, killing two militiamen and two civilians. Several hours later, a “terrorist attack” on the village of Hargo left seven dead, the official said.

The official news agency AIB said that around 20 assailants had been “neutralised” by air strikes the same day as their group retreated in the area of Toulfe. One of the world’s poorest nations, Burkina Faso is battling a jihadist insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali in 2015. More than 10,000 civilians, troops and police have been killed, according to an NGO estimate. At least two million people have fled their homes and around 40 percent of the country is effectively under jihadist control. Frustration within the armed forces at failures to roll back the insurgency triggered two coups last year.

Despite vows by the latest junta to win back lost territory, attacks have escalated since the start of the year, with the death toll currently averaging dozens per week. The junta’s strategy places a heavy emphasis on the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP). Its members are civilian volunteers given two weeks’ military training and who then work alongside the army, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties. The VDP has suffered heavy casualties since its creation in December 2019, targeted by roadside bombs, ambushes and hit-and-run raids by jihadists riding on motorbikes.

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