Burkina Faso Ministers Infected With Coronavirus Amid New Deaths

Stanislas Ouaro (wearing a mask), Burkina Faso Minister of Education, takes part in the first session of the Burkina Faso National Committee on COVID-19 Epidemic (Comite national de gestion de l’epidemie COVID-19), in Ouagadougou on March 19, 2020.   AFP

 

Four government ministers are among the latest cases of coronavirus in Burkina Faso where two new deaths were reported by the country’s health emergency response operations centre on Saturday.

According to press releases issued by their respective departments, the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, education, and mines and quarries have all tested positive for COVID-19.

“Two deaths (have been) recorded today, bringing the number of deaths since the start of the epidemic to three,” the report from the operations centre known as Corus said.

“Twenty-four (new) cases were confirmed on March 20, including 19 in Ouagadougou, two in Bobo-Dioulasso, two in Boromo and one in Dedougou.”

Burkina Faso now has a total of 64 confirmed cases (29 women and 35 men), according to the report.

A poor and landlocked country in West Africa, with a population of 20 million, Burkina Faso recorded the first death linked to the coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa on Wednesday.

Five cases of recovery, including the first infected couple, were also recorded, according to the Corus.

Burkina Faso announced on Friday evening the closure of its land and air borders and the introduction of a curfew starting on March 21, to fight against the coronavirus epidemic.

AFP

Burkina Faso Reports First Coronavirus Death In Sub-Saharan Africa

Men crossing a road wear face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the new COVID-19 coronavirus in Ouagadougou, on March 16, 2020. – The Burkina Faso government announced the closure of schools and universities until March 31, 2020, as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus. The government also ordered the suspension of public and private demonstrations and rallies until the end of April 2020. OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP.

 

The Sahel state of Burkina Faso on Wednesday announced its first death from coronavirus, which is also the first known fatality in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We recorded the death overnight of a female patient aged 62, who suffered from diabetes and was in intensive care,” Burkina’s national coordinator for responding to the virus, Professor Martial Ouedraogo, told the press.

With the addition of seven new cases, “the number of patients (in Burkina Faso) stands at 27, comprising 15 women and 12 men”, Ouedraogo said.

The tally includes a case in the town of Bobo Dioulasso, the first outside the capital Ouagadougou.

Africa has lagged behind the global curve for coronavirus infections and deaths, although the reasons for this are unclear.

As of Wednesday, a tally of reported cases, compiled by AFP, stood at 576 for all of Africa.

Of these, 15 cases have been fatal: six in Egypt, five in Algeria, two in Morocco, one in Sudan and one in Burkina Faso.

READ ALSO: Zimbabwe VP In China For Medical Check

Experts have sounded loud warnings about the vulnerability of sub-Saharan countries to the highly contagious respiratory virus.

Many countries are at high risk, given weak health systems, poverty, urban slums, porous borders and poor sanitation.

A 2016 analysis by the Rand Corporation, a US thinktank, found that of the 25 countries in the world that were most vulnerable to infectious outbreaks, 22 were in Africa — the others were Afghanistan, Yemen and Haiti.

The report put the finger on a “disease hot spot belt” extending on a line of countries, running across the southern rim of the Sahara through the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, many of which are struggling with conflicts.

“Were a communicable disease to emerge within this chain of countries, it could easily spread across borders in all directions, abetted by high overall vulnerability and a string of weak national health systems along the way,” the report warned.

On Saturday, Burkina Faso ordered the closure of all schools and a ban on all public and private gatherings until the end of April.

AFP

Benin Republic Confirms First Coronavirus Case

(FILES) This file handout illustration image obtained February 3, 2020, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Lizabeth MENZIES / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP.

 

West Africa’s Benin on Monday announced its first confirmed coronavirus case as the continent scrambles to stop the spread of the global pandemic.

Health minister Benjamin Hounkpatin said a man coming from neighbouring Burkina Faso had tested positive, having recently visited Belgium.

Health Minister Benjamin Hounkpatin said a man from neighbouring Burkina Faso, who had recently visited Belgium, tested positive after arriving in Benin.

READ ALSO: Liberia Confirms First Case Of Coronavirus

The announcement comes as numerous nations in sub-Saharan Africa have begun imposing entry restrictions or closing schools and banning public gatherings.

AFP

Burkina Faso Attacks Kill 43

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 12, 2019 soldiers from the French Army holds detectors while searching for the presence of IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) during the Burkhane Operation in northern Burkina Faso. 
MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

 

At least 43 people have been killed in attacks in northern Burkina Faso, the government said on Monday, in what local sources described as apparent vigilante reprisals for jihadist violence.

Burkina Faso has battled against a jihadist insurgency since 2015, but the conflict has also provoked attacks on Fulani herders who other communities accuse of supporting militants.

“On Sunday, attacks were carried out on the villages of Dinguila and Barga… in Yatenga province. The provisional toll is 43 victims,” the government said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Sudan PM Escapes Assassination

The statement did not blame any group for the attack or mention the Fulani community.

According to local sources, Fulani people make up the bulk of the population of the villages. Since jihadists have recruited among the Fulani, other communities accuse them of supporting militants.

Vigilante reprisal attacks against Fulani villages have been on the rise.

A year ago, armed militia attacked the village of Yirgou and killed six people including the village chief, triggering a wave of violence between rival communities.

Burkina Faso is in the centre of the Sahel region where a militant insurgency has spread from Mali. Attacks in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso killed at least 4,000 people in 2019, according to the United Nations.

AFP

Thousands Of Burkina Faso Civil Servants Protest New Tax

Protesters take part in a demonstration called by the workers unions against the imposition of bonuses for civil servants, in Ouagadougou, on March 7, 2020. OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP
Protesters take part in a demonstration called by the workers unions against the imposition of bonuses for civil servants, in Ouagadougou, on March 7, 2020. OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP

 

Thousands of Burkina Faso civil servants took to the streets of Ouagadougou on Saturday to protest against a new tax on bonus payments.

Between 10,000-20,000 took part in the demonstrations, some singing the national anthem and chanting “bread and freedom for the people”, an AFP reporter saw.

The government in February extended an exceptional tax on civil servants bonuses.

According to authorities it was needed to bring civil servants into line with private sector workers.

Of the country’s 200,000 civil servants, 190,000 saw their salary in February decrease by 1,000-5,0000 West African CFA francs (1.5-7.5 euros, $1.7-8.5).

“Workers are being crushed by so many taxes. This new tax will not change anything in the country as long as the leaders do not make the competent management of the public good a priority,” health worker Sayouba Compaore, 43, told AFP.

Unions are planning a general strike from March 16-20 with a march to be held on March 17.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, elected in 2015, had pledged to reduce poverty through an ambitious national economic and social development plan.

But his government failed to secure the 28 billion euros ($32 billion) needed to fund it.

Along with neighbours Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, is facing a growing jihadist insurgency that has put even greater strain on its economy.

Jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso have killed around 800 people and forced 800,000 from their homes since 2015.

 

AFP

Twenty-Four Killed In Burkina Faso Church Attack

PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY: In this file photo taken on March 02, 2019, Burkinabe soldiers take part in a ceremony in Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso’s security forces are overwhelmed by the flare-up of attacks carried out almost every day by jihadist groups. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Gunmen have killed 24 people and wounded 18 in an attack on a Protestant church in a village in northern Burkina Faso, the regional governor said Monday.

A group of “armed terrorists” burst into the village of Pansi, in Yagha province “and attacked the peaceful local population after having identified them and separated them from non-residents”, Colonel Salfo Kabore said in a statement sent to AFP.

The assault occurred on Sunday during a weekly service, security officials said.

“The provisional toll is 24 killed, including the pastor… 18 wounded and individuals who were kidnapped,” Kabore said.

A resident of the nearby town of Sebba said Pansi villagers had fled there for safety.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso is on the front line of a jihadist insurgency advancing in the Sahel.

Since 2015, around 750 people have been killed in Burkina and around 600,000 people have fled their homes.

Christians and churches have become frequent targets in the north of the country.

On February 10, suspected jihadists in Sebba seized seven people at the home of a pastor. Five bodies were found three days later, including the pastor, according to the local governor.

According to UN figures, jihadist attacks in Burkina and neighbouring Mali and Niger left nearly 4,000 people dead last year.

Their armed forces are weak, struggling with poor equipment and lack of training and funding.

AFP

About 20 Killed In Burkina Faso Terrorist Attack

 

Suspected jihadists killed nearly 20 civilians in an attack overnight on the northern Burkina Faso village of Bani, Seno province, security sources said Sunday.

“The attackers, heavily armed and on motorbikes, literally executed the local inhabitants,” the security source told AFP. The attackers left nearly 20 dead, the source added.

A local health official, speaking from the town of Dori in the north, said the chief nurse at the nearby village of Lamdamol was among the victims.

“There is panic in the village and the surrounding area,” the official added, saying local people were fleeing the area towards the centre-north of the country.

Another security source said that the attack had come as a reprisal after jihadists had told local people to leave the area a few days earlier.

The security forces worked day and night to make the zone safe, “but it is difficult to be everywhere at once”, said the source.

This latest attack comes a week after several similar attacks in the north of the country.

On January 25, an attack killed 39 civilians in the village of Silgadji, in the neighbouring province of Soum, northwest of Seno.

Burkina Faso borders Mali to the northwest and Niger to the east, both countries that are struggling to contain a wave of lethal jihadist attacks.

Burkina’s security forces, under-equipped and poorly trained, have not been able to counter the deadly raids in their territory, despite the help of foreign soldiers, notably French troops.

According to UN figures, the jihadist attacks in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso killed 4,000 people in 2019 and caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, having forced 600,000 to flee their homes.

AFP

Burkina Faso Rocked By New Jihadist Massacre

A girl stands next to tents in a camp for internally displaced people in Barsalogho, on January 27, 2020. Barsalogho is a small town in northern Burkina Faso that hosts 10,000 displaced persons and refugees fleeing the resulting jihadist and inter-community violence.
Burkina Faso, which borders Mali and Niger, is facing jihadist attacks, which have killed more than 750 people since 2015. Under-equipped and poorly trained law enforcement agencies in Burkina Faso are unable to stop the spiral of violence. According to the United Nations, jihadist attacks in Mali, Niger, and Burkina have resulted in 4,000 deaths in 2019.
OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP

 

At least 10 men have been killed in a jihadist massacre at a village in Burkina Faso, which is in the grip of a years-long Islamist insurgency, security and local sources told AFP on Tuesday.

“We are talking of between 10 and 30 dead” in the assault, which targeted the village of Silgadji in northern Soum province, said a security official.

The attack was launched on Saturday and jihadists were still in the area on Monday, a resident in nearby Bourzanga town told AFP by phone, citing accounts from those who had fled.

“The terrorists surrounded the people at the village market, before separating them into two groups. The men were executed and the women were ordered to leave the village,” the source said.

The security source said: “Security teams are trying to get to the site but access to the village has probably been booby-trapped with homemade mines, and they are having to proceed carefully.”

 

– Hundreds killed –

Jihadist groups have killed almost 800 people in Burkina Faso and displaced 600,000 more since the start of 2015 when extremist violence began to spread from neighbouring Mali.

The attack comes on the heels of a massacre of 36 people at two villages in northern Sanmatenga province on January 20, prompting President Roch Marc Christian Kabore to declare two days of national mourning.

Located in the heart of the vast Sahel region on the southern fringe of the Sahara, Burkina Faso is one of the most impoverished countries in the world.

Its army is ill-equipped and poorly trained to deal with the threat although in recent months commanders claim to have killed roughly 100 jihadists.

The assaults typically entail fast-moving jihadists who arrive on motorbikes, attacking the market place.

There are 4,500 French troops deployed in the region, which are now backed by armed drones, as well as a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali.

They support the forces of the “G5 Sahel” anti-terror group — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

The day after the attacks in Sanmatenga, the Burkina parliament adopted unanimously a law allowing for the recruitment of local volunteers in the fight against jihadists.

Volunteers aged over 18 will be given 14 days of military training, after which they will be given small arms and other communication equipment.

The recruits would be expected to conduct surveillance and provide information and protection for their communities in the event of an attack while waiting for security forces to deploy, according to Defence Minister Cheriff Sy.

According to UN figures, jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger last year claimed around 4,000 lives.

Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes, sparking a humanitarian crisis.

AFP

 

Terrorist Group Kills 36 Civilians In Burkina Faso

 

 

Militants killed 36 civilians when they attacked villages in northern Burkina Faso, the government said on Tuesday, appealing for local volunteers to bolster its fight against jihadists.

A “terrorist group” killed 32 civilians when they attacked and burned the market in Nagraogo village before killing four more people in Alamou village on Monday, the government said.

Three other people were wounded in the attacks, it added.

“The Burkina government has learned with consternation and anger of the deaths of 36 Burkinabe in Sanmatenga province, after a terrorist attack,” communications minister Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said.

Hundreds of people have fled the area and taken refuge in the city of Kaya, in Sanmatenga province, according to residents contacted by AFP.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore announced a two-day period of mourning, for Wednesday and Thursday, during which flags will be flown at half-mast and festivals will be prohibited.

Volunteer plan

Faced with these “repeated attacks” against civilians, the government launched an appeal for the people’s “frank collaboration” with the defence and security forces.

The Burkina parliament on Tuesday adopted unanimously a law allowing for the recruitment of local volunteers in the fight against jihadists.

According to a document seen by AFP, volunteers aged over 18 will be recruited in their regions in agreement with local populations.

They will be given 14 days military training, after which they will be given small arms and other communication equipment.

The recruits would be expected to conduct surveillance and provide information and protection for their local communities in the event of an attack while waiting for security forces to deploy, according to Defence Minister Cheriff Sy.

Burkina Faso, as well as neighbouring Mali and Niger, has seen frequent jihadist attacks which have left hundreds of people dead since the start of 2015 when Islamist extremist violence began to spread across the Sahel region.

According to the UN, around 4,000 people were killed in jihadist attacks in the three Sahel countries last year.

The Burkina Faso army is ill-equipped and poorly-trained to deal with the threat posed by jihadists in the country.

However, in recent months they have enjoyed a series of successes, claiming to have killed a hundred jihadists in many operations.

There are 4,500 French troops deployed in the Sahel region as well as a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali to fight insurgents, backing up national forces of the G5 — Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

In the wake of the latest attack European Commission diplomatic spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson said it was a reminder of the “urgency” of a plan to increase European security and development action in the region.

“Thoughts for the families of the victims of this new terrorist attack in a market in Burkina Faso,” she said on Twitter.

AFP

Seven Children Among 14 Killed In Roadside Bomb In Burkina Faso

 

 

Seven children and four women were among 14 civilians, killed when a roadside bomb blew up their bus in northwestern Burkina Faso, the government said.

“The provisional toll is 14 dead,” a statement said, adding that 19 more people were hurt, three of them seriously in Saturday’s blast.

The explosion happened in Sourou province near the Mali border as students returned to school after the Christmas holidays, a security source said.

“The vehicle hit a homemade bomb on the Toeni-Tougan road,” the source told AFP.

“The government strongly condemns this cowardly and barbaric act,” the statement said.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack but jihadist violence in Burkina Faso has been blamed on combatants linked to both Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups.

Meanwhile, the army reported an assault against gendarmes at Inata in the north on Friday, saying “a dozen terrorists were neutralised”.

The deaths came the week after 35 people, most of them women, died in an attack on the northern city of Arbinda and seven Burkinabe troops were killed in a raid on their army base nearby.

Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, has seen frequent jihadist attacks which have left hundreds of people dead since the start of 2015 when Islamist extremist violence began to spread across the Sahel region.

In a televised address on Tuesday President Roch Marc Christian Kabore insisted that “victory” against “terrorism” was assured.

The entire Sahel region is fighting a jihadist insurgency with help from Western countries but has not managed to stem the bloodshed.

Five Sahel states — Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad — have joined forces to combat terrorism in the fragile region that lies between the Sahara and the Atlantic.

Increasingly deadly Islamist attacks in Burkina have killed more than 750 people since 2015, according to an AFP count, and forced 560,000 people from their homes, UN figures show.

Children Among 14 Dead In Burkina Roadside Bombing

 

Fourteen civilians, including many schoolchildren, died Saturday when a roadside bomb blew up their bus in northwestern Burkina Faso, a security source told AFP.

Four people were seriously hurt in the blast in Sourou province near the Mali border, the source added, as children returned to school after holidays.

“The vehicle hit a homemade bomb on the Toeni-Tougan road,” a second security source said. “Most of the dead are schoolchildren.”

Meanwhile, the army reported an attack against gendarmes at Inata in the north on Friday, saying “a dozen terrorists were neutralised”.

Since 2015, increasingly deadly Islamist attacks in Burkina have killed more than 750 people according to an AFP count, and forced 560,000 people from their homes according to UN figures.

The entire Sahel region, especially Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, is fighting jihadist insurgency with help from Western countries, but has not managed to stem the bloodshed.

AFP

UN, Pope Condemn Burkina Faso Terrorist Attack, Mourn Victims

 

 

A jihadist attack that left 42 dead in the north of Burkina Faso, the worst assault in the country for five years, plunged the nation into mourning over Christmas and sparked messages of solidarity from the United Nations and Pope Francis.

Thirty-five civilians, including 31 women, and seven soldiers were killed Tuesday in a morning raid which lasted for several hours and targeted both civilians and a military base in the northern town of Arbinda, the army said, adding that 80 assailants were killed.

Around a dozen soldiers also died in a separate night-time ambush 60 kilometres (37 miles) away in Hallele, in the same volatile northern province of Soum, security sources said Wednesday.

Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, has seen frequent jihadist attacks which have left hundreds of people dead since the start of 2015 when Islamist extremist violence began to spread across the Sahel region.

“A large group of terrorists simultaneously attacked the military base and the civilian population in Arbinda,” the army chief of staff said.

“While the (military) group was under heavy fire, another group of armed individuals attacked the civilian population, mainly women including displaced people who had taken refuge in Arbinda,” a security source told AFP.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore confirmed that 35 civilians were killed in the “barbaric attack” in Arbinda and declared 48 hours of national mourning over Wednesday and Thursday.

Government spokesman Remis Dandjinou said 31 of the civilian victims were women.

 Pope’s prayers 

There was worldwide condemnation of the attack, as well as expressions of support for Burkina Faso.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the Christmas Eve attack and offered his “deep condolences” to the families of the victims, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General conveys the solidarity of the United Nations to the government and people of Burkina Faso,” he added, emphasising the UN’s continued support for the Sahel region in their efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism.

In his traditional Christmas message, Pope Francis denounced attacks on Christians in Africa and prayed for victims of conflict, natural disasters and disease on the world’s poorest continent.

The pontiff urged “comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria”.

In Brussels, the head of the European Council Charles Michel tweeted: “Inates in Niger yesterday, Arbinda in Burkina Faso today… Martyr towns, victims of a rampant terrorism that threatens us all. The European Union stands by Africa in its battle against terrorism.”

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou also expressed his “solidarity” and, speaking “in the name of the Nigerien people” offered his “condolences for all civilian and military victims.”

The morning raid in Burkina was carried out by more than 200 jihadists on motorbikes, triggering a fierce firefight that lasted about three hours before armed forces backed by the air force drove the militants back, a security source said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, but jihadist violence in Burkina Faso has been blamed on militants linked to both Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups.

 560,000 internally displaced 

Leaders of the G5 Sahel nations held summit talks in Niger earlier this month, calling for closer cooperation and international support in the battle against the Islamist threat.

France is also hosting another meeting next month.

Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, having started when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

There are 4,500 French troops deployed in the region as well as a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali to fight insurgents, backing up national forces of the G5 — Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

In Burkina Faso, more than 700 people have been killed and around 560,000 internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

Attacks have targeted mostly the north and east of the country, though the capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times.

Prior to Tuesday’s attack, Burkina security forces said they had killed around 100 jihadists in several operations since November.

An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in November killed 37 people.

Attacks have intensified this year as the under-equipped, poorly trained Burkina Faso army struggles to contain the Islamist militancy.

AFP