A powerful jihadist group has claimed responsibility for an attack Monday on an army base in northern Burkina Faso, adding it had also freed scores of prisoners in addition to killing 10 soldiers.
The Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which is linked to Al-Qaeda, said Friday that its militants carried out the attack on the base in Djibo, according to a statement authenticated by SITE, a US group monitoring jihadists.
The army said at least 10 soldiers died and around 50 were wounded in a “terrorist” assault on the 14th regiment but made no mention of prisoners released.
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The army added it killed 18 “terrorists” in mopping-up operations.
GSIM said its fighters “killed 10 military personnel and injured dozens more, in addition to freeing 67 prisoners.”
The group added: “Fighters seized a large amount of war spoils, including 4 cars and over 400 light weapons. Moreover, 67 imprisoned Muslim commoners were freed from the jail.”
Djibo’s population of some 300,000, which has swelled with displaced people, has been cut off for several months with jihadists controlling the main roads after blowing up bridges.
GSIM also claimed responsibility for an attack on a supply convoy heading for Djibo on September 26 that left 37 dead – 27 of them, soldiers. Seventy truck drivers are still missing.
The attack helped trigger the latest coup in Burkina just four days later, led by young army captain Ibrahim Traore.
He became interim president on October 21, vowing to win back territory from jihadists.
It was the West African nation’s second coup in eight months.
Traore toppled Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who had seized power only in January, forcing out Burkina’s last elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
Both coups were driven by anger at failures to stem a seven-year jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven nearly two million people from their homes.