37 Killed In Burkina Faso’s Deadliest Attack In Five Years

FILES) 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

 

An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso killed 37 people on Wednesday, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of jihadist violence in the West African country.

The impoverished and politically fragile Sahel country has been struggling to quell a rising jihadist revolt that has claimed hundreds of lives since early 2015.

On Wednesday morning “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying local employees, contractors and suppliers of the Samafo mining company, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the country’s Est Region.

As well as the 37 civilians killed, 60 were wounded, he said.

Mine owner Semafo Inc. said the five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Boungou gold mine in the Tapoa province when they were ambushed.

A security source said “a military vehicle that was escorting the convoy hit an explosive device”.

“Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Burkina Faso’s government said the gunmen had conducted a “complex attack”, adding that defence and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area.

READ ALSO: Two Killed As Clashes Erupt At Guinea Funeral March

It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, in 15 months.

“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of the victims.

The mine itself, it added, remains secure and its operations had not been affected.

Two separate attacks on convoys carrying Boungou mine employees in August and December last year killed 11 people.

The company blamed “armed bandits” for last year’s attacks, and subsequently reinforced its armed escorts.

The Burkina Faso government this year asked mining companies to make their own arrangements to transport their employees, according to sources close to the miners.

Nearly 700 dead in five years

Burkina Faso’s northern provinces have been battling a nearly five-year wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed nearly 700 lives across the country since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Almost 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.

The attacks have been claimed by a range of jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The country’s badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded security forces have been unable to stem the violence, which has intensified throughout 2019 to become almost daily.

The Sahel region, including Burkina Faso’s neighbours Mali and Niger, has been afflicted by the violence despite the presence of the regional G5 Sahel force as well as French and US troops.

Burkina Faso’s previous deadliest attack was in January 2016, when jihadists raided the Splendid Hotel and a cafe in the capital Ouagadougou, killing 30 people, around half of them foreign nationals.

In August this year, the army suffered its worst attack with 24 soldiers killed in an assault on a base in Koutougou, near the Mali border.

On Monday, an attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso killed at least five gendarmes and five civilians.

Police Commissioner Killed In Burkina Faso Attack

 

A police commissioner was killed during a brutal assault by gunmen on a police station in northwestern Burkina Faso, security sources said Friday.

It marks the latest deadly attack in the troubled north of the West African country, which is battling a jihadist revolt that has claimed hundreds of lives.

“The Sanaba district police station in the Boucle du Mouhoun region was targeted in an armed attack around 7:00 pm (1900 GMT)” on Thursday, a security source told AFP.

“Unfortunately the police commissioner was mortally wounded.”

A police officer said “the attack was carried out by a group of about 15 heavily armed individuals on motorbikes”.

“There was a lot of damage caused by a fire,” the officer said on condition of anonymity, pleading for “appropriate equipment and adequate police forces to face terrorists who sometimes have great firepower”.

Burkina Faso is an impoverished and politically fragile country in the heart of the Sahel, and its security forces are badly-equipped, poorly trained and under-funded.

The country’s northern provinces have been battling with a four-year-old wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed more than 630 lives nationally, according to an AFP toll. Nearly 500,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

On Monday, a police officer was killed in an attack on a military post in the northern Bam province.

Late last month, five soldiers died in an ambush at Toeni, in the northwestern province of Sourou.

15 Killed In Fresh Burkina Faso Attack

 

Gunmen killed 15 civilians in northern Burkina Faso over the weekend, security and local sources said Monday, in the latest deadly attack as the impoverished West African country battles a jihadist revolt.

“On Saturday night numerous armed individuals attacked the village of Pobe-Mengao and kidnapped several residents, ransacked shops and carried away equipment,” a local source said.

A security source said “the lifeless bodies of 11 people were found on Sunday morning… probably the bodies of those abducted the day before in Pobe-Mengao by an armed terrorist group”.

The local source said that “after the attackers departed, the population started to leave the village to take refuge in Djibo — particularly after the bodies were discovered.”

Djibo, the capital of the Soum province, is 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Pobe-Mengao.

The gunmen returned to Pobe-Mengao on Sunday morning, where they “shot in the air for several hours before leaving,” said the source, who is a Djibo resident, quoting testimonies from the displaced villagers.

Four more bodies were found after the second onslaught, the source told AFP, bringing the death toll to at least 15.

The security source said that reinforcements had been sent to patrol the area.

Soum is one of a swathe of provinces in northern Burkina Faso that have been battling with a four-year-old wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed around 640 lives nationally, according to an AFP toll.

Nearly 500,000 people have been internally displaced.

More than 10,000 people marched in the capital Ouagadougou on Saturday to express their support for the country’s security forces, which are badly-equipped, poorly trained and under-funded.

AFP

Nine Killed In Fresh Burkina Faso Attack

FILES) In this file photo taken on March 02, 2019 Burkinabe soldiers take part in a ceremony in Ouagadougou.  ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Nine people were killed in northern Burkina Faso late Sunday, in the latest attack in a region struggling with a jihadist revolt, a security official said.

“Armed individuals carried out an attack on the village of Zoura, killing nine people, all of them civilians,” the source said on Monday. On Saturday, four soldiers and a police officer were killed and 11 others injured in twin attacks in the embattled region.

AFP

16 Killed In Burkina Faso Mosque Attack

FILES) In this file photo taken on March 02, 2019 Burkinabe soldiers take part in a ceremony in Ouagadougou. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Armed men stormed a mosque in the volatile north of Burkina Faso as worshippers were at prayer, killing 16 people and sending residents fleeing, security sources and locals said Saturday.

The attack on the Grand Mosque in the town of Salmossi on Friday evening underscores the difficulties faced by the country in its battle against jihadists.

One source said 13 people died on the spot and three succumbed to their injuries later. Two of the wounded are in critical condition.

“Since this morning, people have started to flee the area,” one resident from the nearby town of Gorom-Gorom said.

He said there was a “climate of panic despite military reinforcements” that were deployed after the deadly attack.

Although hit by jihadist violence, many Burkinabes oppose the presence of foreign troops — notably from former colonial ruler France — on their territory.

On Saturday, a crowd of about 1,000 people marched in the capital Ouagadougou “to denounce terrorism and the presence of foreign military bases in Africa.”

“Terrorism has now become an ideal pretext for installing foreign military bases in our country,” said Gabin Korbeogo, one of co-organisers of the march.

“The French, American, Canadian, German and other armies have set foot in our sub-region, saying they want to fight terrorism. But despite this massive presence… the terrorist groups… are growing stronger.”

Until 2015, the poor West African country Burkina Faso was largely spared violence that hit Mali and then Niger, its neighbours to the north.

But jihadists — some linked to Al-Qaeda, others to the so-called Islamic State group — started infiltrating the north, then the east, and then endangered the southern and western borders of the landlocked country.

Combining guerrilla hit-and-run tactics with road mines and suicide bombings, the insurgents have killed nearly 600 people, according to a toll compiled by AFP.

Civil society groups put the number at more than 1,000, with attacks no taking place on almost a daily basis.

Burkina’s defence and security forces are badly-equipped, poorly trained and have shown themselves to be unable to put a halt to the increasing violence.

France has a force of 200 in Burkina Faso but also intervenes frequently as part of its regional Barkhane operation.

Almost 500,000 people have fled their homes because of the violence, according to the UN refugee agency, which has warned of a humanitarian crisis affecting 1.5 million people.

Almost 3,000 schools have closed, and the impact on an overwhelmingly rural economy is escalating, disrupting trade and markets.

AFP

Inside Burkina Faso’s Failing Fight Against Jihadism

Burkina Faso’s security forces are overwhelmed by the flare-up of attacks carried out almost every day by jihadist groups… File photo: Ahmed OUOBA / AFP

 

The expert cups his hands, with the ball-like space between them representing Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

He then slowly squeezes his palms together: “The vice is tightening,” he says.

The movement is a distressing, yet truthful, statement of where Burkina Faso stands in its four-year-old fight against jihadism.

Islamist insurgents are relentlessly gaining ground, leaving the capital as one of the few areas of safe territory. “Safe” is a relative word.

France advises its nationals against travelling to half of Burkina’s territory, including Ouagadougou. The US State Department urges American travellers to “exercise increased caution” everywhere.

Until 2015, landlocked Burkina Faso was largely spared the revolt that hit Mali and then Niger, its neighbours to the north.

But jihadists — some linked to Al-Qaeda, others to the so-called Islamic State — started infiltrating the north, then the east, and then endangered its southern and western borders.

Combining guerrilla hit-and-run tactics with road mines and suicide bombings, the insurgents have killed nearly 600 people, according to a toll compiled by AFP. Civil society groups put the tally at more than 1,000.

Around 300,000 people have fled their homes and almost 3,000 schools have closed. The impact on an overwhelmingly rural economy is escalating, dislocating trade and markets.

Escalation

Attacks are “more widespread… more violent, bloodier, they lead to inter-community violence and the creation of self-defence militias,” says Ousmane Amirou Dicko, emir of the historic Islamic kingdom of Liptako, reaching into Niger and Mali.

“The north has been forgotten, and it’s hard to recover that in the space of two or three years,” adds the traditional ruler, noting a widening gap in standards with the south in the past 50 years.

A curfew has been imposed in the east, while major northern cities such as Djibo and Dori live as though in a state of siege.

“In Djibo, at 2:00 pm, everyone — police, gendarmes, soldiers, civil servants — heads to the military camp” where they spend the night, a policeman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Weak army

Poorly-trained and chronically short of equipment, many members of the security forces feel overwhelmed.

“We’ve lost the fight. Not a day goes by without something happening, even if the press doesn’t know about it,” said a policeman who has been made several tours of duty in the north.

Before protests brought about his downfall in 2014, then-president Blaise Compaore kept up negotiations with Islamist forces, assuming the role of regional mediator.

“Burkina was their sanctuary,” said a source in the security forces.

“At the same time, he (Compaore) feared a coup. Though he was a soldier, he pared down the army in favour of his presidential guard. In 2014, we had an army without arms.”

Shaken by foiled comeback attempts by Compaore loyalists, interim authorities and then the government of President Marc Roch Christian Kabore, elected in November 2015, have done little to boost security forces.

“I have an automatic pistol. I have five rounds of ammo. Is this how we’re going to fight the jihadists?” the police officer asked, adding that soldiers were no better off.

“Security guards transporting money have more ammunition than soldiers,” a security source told AFP.

“Normally, when we go on a mission we are entitled to 500 CFA francs (0.75 euros / $0.84) each morning, 500 at midday and 500 for the evening. In practice, we get nothing,” said the policeman, who often got his water and rations from French soldiers at Djibo.

“Senior offices stay in Ouaga, the subalterns stay in big towns. There’s a problem with the chain of command, discipline and involvement. The Koutougou episode sums that up,” said the security source.

On August 19, the army faced the most deadly assault in its history in the northern town, where 24 soldiers were killed.

The senior-most soldier at Koutougou was a non-commissioned officer, several sources said. The unit informed their superiors that jihadists were gathering to attack, but no help came.

Last month, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) unveiled a plan to raise $1 billion (911 million euros) for the fight, but is counting on wealthy nations to fill the coffers.

France has sent 200 special forces to Ouagadougou, among 4,500 troops deployed in the Sahel nations with a mission to combat terrorism and insurgency.

AFP

Eight Killed In Burkina Faso Attacks

Burkina Faso on the map.

 

At least eight people were killed in two attacks in the north of Burkina Faso, security sources said on Sunday.

They were the latest in a series of attacks that claimed 17 lives Saturday, in violence generally blamed on a long-running jihadist insurgency in the poor, fragile Sahel region.

Seven people were killed on Saturday at around 6:00 pm local time, by an armed group in Deneon village in Bam province, one security source told AFP.

A soldier was also killed on Saturday when an army unit was attacked in Deou in Soum province, said another security source, who confirmed the attack on Deneon.

Security sources already reported a deadly raid Saturday morning on another northern village, Komsilga, in Zimtanga district.

Around 20 attackers on motorbikes killed nine villagers and set fire to shops and motorcycles.

Security had been stepped up in the region and the security sources were searching the zone, said a security source.

Burkina Faso has become part of a seven-year-old jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region.

More than 585 people have been killed since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Many of the attacks have been attributed to groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda, and others to the so-called Islamic State group.

The Burkinabe army, which itself has suffered heavy losses, has been unable to stop the attacks.

The violence, which at first was concentrated in the north of the country, has spread to other regions in the east and west.

AFP

At Least 5 Soldiers Killed In Burkina Faso Ambush

 

At least five soldiers have been killed in an ambush in northwestern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali, security forces told AFP on Friday.

“A military patrol was attacked last night (Thursday) in an ambush by armed individuals near Toeni,” in Sourou province, a security source said.

One other soldier was injured.

The army fired back and sent out a patrol to track down the attackers, another source said.

A similar attack in the region left four soldiers dead a month ago.

In a separate development, locals told AFP a bridge had been blown up at Boukouma on the road linking the northern towns of Djibo and Dori.

Thousands of residents have fled the region in the wake of repeat jihadist attacks.

The attacks — mostly in the north and east — have left more than 570 people dead since 2015, according to an AFP tally.

The Burkinabe government has logged some 440 incidents in the same period.

With the army struggling to contain the violence, the attacks have spread westward into other parts of the country.

Burkina Faso last week hosted an extraordinary summit of West African states at which leaders announced a billion-dollar five-year plan to fight jihadists and prevent violence spreading across the region.

Buhari Attends ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit On Counter-Terrorism In Burkina Faso

President Muhammadu Buhari received by Burkina Faso President, Roch Kabore

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to attend the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on Counter Terrorism.

Upon his arrival, the President was received by President Roch Kabore of Burkina Faso.

The Aide to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, confirm through her Twitter handle that the President was also received at the Ouagadougou International airport by the Nigerian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Ramatu Ahmed, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi, NSA, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), DG, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Executive Secretary of Lake Chad Basin Commission, Ambassador Nuhu Mamman and members of the Nigerian Community in Burkina Faso.

The special-one day summit by ECOWAS leaders and leaders from Chad, Cameroon and Mauritania is expected to adopt an action plan to address the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in the region.

READ ALSO: Buhari To Attend ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit On Counter-Terrorism In Burkina Faso

The Nigerian leader is expected to address the Summit where he will renew his call for West African leaders “to strive to provide the necessary resources and tools” for regional initiatives such as Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, to lead the war on terrorism, violent extremism and trans-border crimes across the region.

President Buhari is expected back in Abuja at the end of the Summit.

Court Jails Two Generals Over 2015 Coup In Burkina Faso

 

A military court in Burkina Faso on Monday convicted and jailed two generals on charges of masterminding a coup in the fragile Sahel state in 2015.

General Gilbert Diendere was convicted on charges of murder and harming state security and handed a 20-year prison term, while General Djibrill Bassole, accused of treason, was ordered jailed for 10 years.

The coup, carried out by troops loyal to ousted president Blaise Compaore, was thwarted by public protest but at the cost of 14 lives and nearly 300 wounded.

The two generals were the leading figures in a 19-month trial of 84 people accused of the attempted overthrow of Burkina’s transitional government.

The coup was mounted by an elite unit of the army, the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP), on September 16 2015, less than a month before scheduled general elections.

It fizzled out within a week after army-backed street protestors attacked the rebels’ barracks.

Compaore had fled to Ivory Coast in 2014 after 27 years in office marked by assassinations and mounting public unrest.

He was forced out by a revolt sparked by his attempts to extend his grip on power, and a transitional government took the helm.

Diendere, 60, who had been Compaore’s right-hand man and a former head of the RSP, took the head of the putschists’ governing body, the so-called National Council for Democracy.

Bassole, 62, was a foreign minister under Compaore.

Both had denied the charges.

But the prosecution, which had sought life sentences, said the pair had been instrumental in events.

Diendere was “the main instigator in the coup” and Bassole “helped to prepare (it),” said military prosecutor Pascaline Zoungrana.

Among 10 rebel troops who arrested members of the transitional government, a sentence of 19 years was handed down against a non-commissioned officer, Eloi Badiel, and 17 years against another NCO, Moussa Nebie, nicknamed Rambo. The others in this group were given 15 years.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mamadou Bamba, who had read the coup leaders’ statement on television, was given 10 years, five of them suspended.

 Traumatic 

Although the would-be putsch was quickly quelled, it had traumatic consequences for Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries with a history of chronic instability.

It dug a deep rift in the armed forces, weakening their ability to cope with mounting jihadist attacks that have now claimed more than 500 lives, analysts say.

Many in Burkina have been hoping that the end of the trial will shed light on what happened and usher in reconciliation.

Guy-Herve Kam, a lawyer representing civilian plaintiffs, said the trial had served the purposes of transparency.

“Today, we know who did what and, especially, why.”

AFP

Death Toll In Burkina Faso Military Base Attack Rises To 24

 

The death toll from an attack Monday on a military base in northern Burkina Faso rose to 24, the military said, in an unprecedented blow to the army in its campaign against jihadist insurgents.

Seven people were wounded and five others missing, armed forces headquarters said in a statement Tuesday.

The previous toll from the attack, at Koutougou in Soum province near the border with Mali, had been given late Monday as “more than a dozen”.

An “extraordinary meeting of the defence council” was underway at the presidential palace in the capital Ouagadougou, a security source told AFP.

The country’s main opposition party, the Union for Progress and Change (UPC), said the government-appointed by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore had “completely failed”.

It called for a “new team, whose prime task will be to defend the territorial integrity and protect the public.”

Monday’s attack came four days after suspected jihadists raided a village in the restive north, killing 15 people, plundering and burning shops.

A former French colony that ranks among one of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has been struggling with an Islamist revolt since 2015, which began in the north but has since spread to the east, near the border with Togo and Benin.

Most of the attacks have been attributed to the Ansarul Islam group, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Those groups are believed to have been responsible for around 500 deaths. Burkina’s capital Ouagadougou has been attacked three times.

The source said the base was attacked Monday by “several dozen terrorists” who arrived aboard motorbikes and pickup trucks.

“It’s clearly an attack that was well-prepared and coordinated by several terrorist groups. They fired heavy weapons, including rockets, which set fire to several installations, transport and weaponry,” the source said.

Previously, the heaviest Islamist attack against Burkina’s army left 12 soldiers dead at Nassoumbou, also in Soum province, in December 2016.

In March 2018, a jihadist attack on the military headquarters in Ouagadougou left eight dead.

Around 238,000 people have fled their homes, according to UN figures published on August 15.

France has deployed 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help local forces flush out jihadists.

Burkina Faso has also joined four other Sahel nations (Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) in a French-supported initiative aimed at creating a joint 5,000-troop anti-terror force.

AFP