Jihadists Kill 11 In Burkina Faso Ambush

The vehicle carrying Burkina Faso’s new junta leader Capitain Ibrahim Traore leaves the General Sangoule Lamizana military camp in Ouagadougou on October 8, 2022, following the funerals of 27 soldiers killed as they escorted 207-vehicles in a convoy in Gaskinde.

 

Jihadists killed at least three soldiers and eight civilian auxiliaries in an attack Saturday in Burkina Faso’s volatile north, security sources told AFP.

The soldiers, who were patrolling with the auxiliaries, were caught in an ambush in the district of Bouroum, said one source.

Another source, confirming the attack, said the toll could rise, adding that two people were still unaccounted for. The ambush had happened near Silmangue, in Namentenga province, the source said.

The latest attack comes after a September 30 coup that ousted Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba — who himself seized power in January — and a day after 34-year-old captain Ibrahim Traore was named as his successor as transitional president.

One of the world’s poorest nations, Burkina Faso has a long history of coups since independence from France in 1960.

The latest are rooted in unrest within army ranks over the jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

Thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million have been displaced and more than a third of the country lies outside government control.

Traore has vowed to uphold a pledge that Damiba made for a return to civilian government by July 2024 at the latest.

But like Damiba before him, Traore defended the coup on the grounds that the authorities were failing to do enough against the jihadists.

Damiba fled on October 2 after a weekend of violent protests that also targeted the French embassy and saw demonstrators raise Russian flags.

At 34, Burkina’s New Junta Chief Is World’s Youngest Leader

In this file video grab taken from a video broadcasted on October 2, 2022 by the national television of Burkina Faso shows Captain Kiswendsida Farouk Azaria Sorgho (C), member of the junta reading a statement next to Coup leader Ibrahim Traoré (L) and surrounded by members of the military who are claiming to take power on September 30, 2022 in Ouagadougou.

 

Just a week ago, 34-year-old Ibrahim Traore was an unknown, even in his native Burkina Faso.

But in the space of a weekend, he catapulted himself from army captain to the world’s youngest leader — an ascent that has stoked hopes but also fears for a poor and chronically troubled country.

Traore, at the head of a core of disgruntled junior officers, ousted Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who had seized power just in January.

The motive for the latest coup — as in January — was 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.

On Wednesday, Traore was declared president and “guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity… and continuity of the State.”

At that lofty moment, Traore became the world’s youngest leader, wresting the title from Chilean President Gabriel Boric, a whole two years older.

Traore’s previously unknown face is now plastered on portraits around the capital Ouagadougou.

His photo is even on sale in the main market, alongside portraits of Burkina’s revered assassinated radical leader, Thomas Sankara, and of Jesus.

Military career

Traore was born in Bondokuy, in western Burkina Faso, and studied geology in Ouagadougou before joining the army in 2010.

He graduated as an officer from the Georges Namonao Military School — a second-tier institution compared to the prestigious Kadiogo Military Academy (PMK) of which Damiba and others in the elite are alumni.

Traore emerged second in his class, a contemporary told AFP, describing him as “disciplined and brave.”

After graduation, he gained years of experience in the fight against the jihadists.

He served in the badly-hit north and centre of the country before heading to a posting in neighbouring Mali in 2018 in the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission.

He was appointed captain in 2020.

A former superior officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, recounted an incident that occurred in 2020 when the town of Barsalogho in central Burkina was on the verge of falling to the jihadists.

The highway into Barsalogho was believed to have been mined, so Traore led his men on a “commando trek” across the countryside, arriving in time to free the town, he said.

When Damiba took power in January, ousting elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Traore became a member of the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR), as the junta chose to call itself.

Discontent

In March, Damiba promoted Traore to head of artillery in the Kaya regiment in the centre of the country.

But it was a move that ironically would sow the seeds of Damiba’s own downfall.

The regiment became a cradle of discontent, and Traore, tasked by his colleagues with channelling their frustrations, made several trips to Ouagadougou to plead their case with Damiba.

Disillusionment at the response turned into anger, which appears to have crystallised into resolve to seize power after an attack on a convoy in northern Burkina last month that left 27 soldiers and 10 civilians dead.

“Captain Traore symbolises the exasperation of junior officers and the rank and file,” said security consultant Mahamoudou Savadogo.

The new president faces a daunting task in regaining the upper hand over jihadist groups, some affiliated with Al-Qaeda and others with the Islamic State. They have steadily gained ground since they launched their attacks from Mali in 2015.

Yet Traore has promised to do “within three months” what “should have been done in the past eight months,” making a direct criticism of his predecessor.

Savadogo warned that one soldier overthrowing another illustrates “the deteriorating state of the army, which hardly exists any more and which has just torn itself apart with this umpteenth coup d’etat”.

Traore’s takeover comes during a struggle for influence between France and Russia in French-speaking Africa, where former French colonies are increasingly turning to Moscow.

Demonstrators who rallied for him in Ouagadougou during last weekend’s standoff with Damiba waved Russian flags and chanted anti-France slogans.

Traore seems — for now — to bring hope to many in a country sinking steadily in the quagmire.

On Monday, L’Observateur Paalga newspaper, went with a decidedly biblical headline: “Ibrahim, the intimate friend of God, will he be able to save us?”

11 Soldiers Killed, 50 Missing After Jihadist Attack

A graphical illustration of gunmen.

 

Eleven soldiers died and around 50 civilians were missing after a suspected jihadist attack in Burkina Faso’s north, the government said late Tuesday.

Violence has raged in the landlocked west African country after Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba seized power in a January coup, ousting Burkina’s elected leader and promising to rein in jihadists.

As in neighbouring countries, insurgents affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have stoked the unrest, even after Damiba earlier this month sacked his defence minister and assumed the role himself.

“A convoy carrying supplies to Djibo town was the target of a cowardly and barbaric attack,” government spokesman Lionel Bilgo said.

“The provisional toll is that 11 bodies of soldiers have been found… About 50 civilians are missing and searches are ongoing.”

A security source told AFP the toll could be as high as 60 dead.


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The convoy was ambushed Monday near Gaskinde in the province of Soum, part of the Sahel region.

Such convoys, escorted by the army, carry essential goods to towns in the north, particularly Djibo, which are under blockade by jihadists who have dynamited bridges on main roads.

“Practically the entire convoy was burnt,” a source said Monday. Videos received by AFP showed charred vehicles.

On Sunday an improvised explosive device that targeted another army-escorted resupply convoy in the Sahel wounded four people, security sources said, but the convoy was able to reach its destination on Monday.

In early September an IED strike on a convoy left at least 35 civilians dead, the governor of the Sahel region said at the time.

More than 40 percent of Burkina Faso, a former French colony, is outside government control.

Thousands have died and about two million have been displaced by the fighting since 2015 when the insurgency spread into Burkina Faso.

Much of the Sahel region is now battling the insurgency, which also spread to Niger. In recent years, the violence has begun to spill over into coastal states Ivory Coast and Togo.

“The deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso and Mali has made the north of the coastal countries the new front line against armed groups operating in the Sahel,” the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German think tank, said in a report in April.

French forces supported Mali against insurgents for nearly a decade, but President Emmanuel Macron decided to pull out after France and the Malian junta fell out in the wake of a military takeover. The last French troops from France’s operation Barkhane left last month.

At Least 138 Killed In Deadliest Burkina Faso Attacks Since 2015

In this file photograph taken on November 11, 2019, an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) of the French Army patrols a rural area during the Bourgou IV operation in northern Burkina Faso along the border with Mali and Niger. AFP

 

Suspected jihadists have massacred at least 138 civilians in Burkina Faso’s volatile north in the deadliest attacks since Islamist violence erupted in the West African country in 2015, officials said Saturday.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore denounced an attack near the borders with Mali and Niger, where jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have been targeting civilians and soldiers.

“Several injured have succumbed to their wounds and new bodies have been discovered. The still provisional toll is 138 deaths,” one local official said Saturday evening.

“The bodies were buried in mass graves,” the official said, adding that “there are dozens of injured” after the overnight attack by armed assailants.

“We must remain united and solid against these obscurantist forces,” Kabore said, condemning the massacre in the village of Solhan as “barbaric” and “despicable.”

Declaring three days of national mourning, ending Monday night at 11:59 pm, the government stated that “terrorists,” a term for jihadists, killed civilians of all ages and set fire to homes and the main market.

A security source lamented “the heavy human toll, the worst recorded to date,” while warning it could still increase.

Meanwhile, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres’ spokesman said that he was “outraged” over the massacre.

Guterres “strongly condemns the heinous attack and underscores the urgent need for the international community to redouble support to the Member States in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human toll,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, offering Burkinabe authorities the UN’s “full support”.

The assailants struck around 2:00 am (0200 GMT) against a position of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Motherland (VDP), an anti-jihadist civilian defence force that backs the national army, before attacking homes and carrying out “executions,” a local source said.

Opposition leader Eddie Komboigo demanded that “the massacre of our people, we never tire of repeating, must stop unconditionally. Every measure must be taken to protect the Burkinabe” people.

The VDP was set up in December 2019 to help Burkina’s poorly-equipped military fight jihadists but it has suffered more than 200 fatalities, according to an AFP tally.

The volunteers are given two weeks’ military training before working alongside the security forces, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.

‘Neutralise these terrorists’

The government said that “the defence and security forces are at work to neutralise these terrorists and restore calm to populated areas.”

A security forces official said that men were deployed to secure populated areas and to remove and bury bodies.

Solhan, a small community around 15 kilometres from Sebba, the main city in Yagha province, has suffered numerous attacks in recent years.

On May 14, Defence Minister Cheriff Sy and military top brass visited Sebba to assure people that life had returned to normal, following a number of military operations.

The massive attack by suspected jihadists came hours after another attack Friday evening on Tadaryat village in the same region in which 14 people were killed, including an armed volunteer who had come to help them.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has struggled to fight back against increasingly frequent and deadly jihadist attacks from groups including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS).

The attacks first started in the north near the Mali border, but have since spread to other regions, particularly in the east.

Around 1,400 people have died and more than a million have fled their homes.

AFP

Five Civilian Volunteers, One Soldier Killed In Burkina Faso Ambush

 

 

Six people including civilians were killed when a military detachment was ambushed in northern Burkina Faso, security sources said Sunday.

The nation, among the world’s poorest, is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

“A unit from Gaskinde (Soum province) was ambushed on Saturday. One (soldier) sadly lost his life, and another was injured. On our side, there were five other casualties, all volunteers,” a security source told AFP.

The five civilians were part of Volunteers for the Defence of the Nation (VDP), a network of civilian volunteers who help the army in their uphill battle against the various jihadist groups operating in the country.

“The Kourao VDP were patrolling the area and were targeted by armed individuals. A unit went to their aid and came under heavy fire,” said another security source, confirming the death of one soldier.

The source said “the enemy side” had also suffered casualties in the ensuing exchange of fire, without giving more details.

The jihadist insurgency began in neighbouring Mali in 2012 and spread into its territory in 2015, killing more than 1,200 people and displacing roughly one million.

Last week six people, including a pregnant woman and a young girl, were killed in a roadside bomb, also in the country’s north.

The poorly equipped and disorganised army is flailing, and the creation of the VDP was an attempt to bolster efforts against the insurgency.

Members receive 14 days of training and are then sent out on patrols and surveillance missions, equipped with light arms.

More than 100 have been killed in combat since January 2020.

Over 1,000 troops from Chad — pledged in a recent Sahel summit — are expected to arrive in days to help strengthen security in what is known as the three-border zone, where the frontiers of Burkina, Mali, and Niger converge.

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.

Burkina Faso Army Says 32 ‘Terrorists’ Killed In Two Operations

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

 

The Burkina Faso army said on Sunday it had killed 32 “terrorists” in two operations in the north of the country after an attack on a patrol.

One soldier was killed in the operations, which come less than a month after 37 people were killed in an ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company.

The army said 24 people were killed in the first operation on Friday and a further eight in a second on Saturday.

The first operation in Yorsala in Loroum province saw a number of women who “had been held and used by the terrorists as sex slaves” freed.

Arms, ammunition and other materials were also recovered in the second operation on the outskirts of Bourzanga in Bam province, the army statement added.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Increased Attacks Raises Concern In Burkina Faso

File Photo

Burkinabes are still reeling from a suspected Islamist attack, which killed at least 18 people and wounded several during a raid on a restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou.

Around 1000 people marched through the city on Saturday (August 19) to protest insecurity and show solidarity with the victims.

Burkina Faso, like other countries in West Africa, has been targeted sporadically by jihadist groups.

Most attacks have been along its remote northern border with Mali, which has seen activity by Islamist militants for more than a decade.

Those who turned out said life will go one and hope their show of unity will be felt in Burkina Faso and beyond.

“Our way of life will continue, life goes on, we will continue living our lives. We need to continue working on making sure that there is national cohesion, and let that be the foundation that will protect us,” said one protester, Etienne Minoungou.

Despite increased security and intense military operations, there is growing concern that Islamist militants can strike anywhere, and at any time.

In Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city after the capital Ouagadougou, families of those who lost their lives gathered for burials.

Many expressed fears that repeated attacks have created panic across the country.

“I don’t feel safe because you never know, a bullet can come of nowhere and kill me. Why is this still going on? Why have there been no appropriate measures taken to address the security issue in Burkina Faso?” said Abubacar Sidibe.

This is the second jihadist attack in a year in Ouagadougou; a similar attack at the Cappuccino restaurant and the Splendid hotel in the city in January 2016 killed 30 people. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility.

The Cappuccino Restaurant reopened for business in June in a show of resilience in the face of growing extremism in the region.

But experts warn that a more localised, home-grown Islamist movement poses a greater threat to the stability of Burkina Faso, which is still struggling to stabilise itself after a people-power revolution swept out long-time autocrat Blaise Compaore.

Authorities have been concerned for some time that the northern border with neighbour Mali, which has seen activity by Islamist militants, could become a transit point for militants.

Dr Jacob Yarabatioula is a terrorism expert.

“When we analyse this situation, we can say that this is something that is on the rise. It looks like a situation that will worsen over time and that’s very worrying, because we know that the country still needs to do a lot on the economic and social level, and that’s a major concern,” he said.

Landlocked Burkina Faso is an ally of the West against terrorism in the arid West African Sahel region.

It has also been dealing with the fallout from a failed coup attempt in 2015 by elite presidential guard soldiers who were a pillar of former President Campaore’s rule before he was ousted by demonstrators in 2014 over his attempts to change the constitution to prolong his 27 years in office.

Analysts say a lack of resources and decisive measures to boost security have hampered efforts to tackle the Islamist threat.

“The attack in 2017 has reminded us that the security measures that were previously in place were not enough to deter the enemy. I think that all stake holders are now thinking what lessons to learn from this attack. How do they ensure that from now on that Kwame Nkrumah Avenue will be the most secure street in Burkina Faso. The question now is that we all need to come together because there need to be measures to ensure that there is security in place,” said Yarabatioula.

In June, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger launched a joint task force known as Group of Five (G5), to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel, but it will not be operational until later this year and faces a budget shortfall.

President Buhari Assures Burkina Faso Of Nigeria’s Support

Burkina FasoPresident Muhammadu Buhari has assured President Roch Marc Kabore and the people of Burkina Faso of Nigeria’s solidarity and support.

President Buhari’s statement is coming as Burkina Faso grapple with the aftermath of Friday night’s terrorist attack on Ouagadougou.

In a telephone call to President Kabore on Saturday, the President expressed shock at the attack on the Splendid Hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital in which 26 persons were reportedly killed and a further 56 injured.

“Accept my sympathy over what happened in your country. I am however glad to hear that your forces have rallied, and things are now under control,” President Buhari told his counterpart.

He assured President Kabore that Nigeria would continue to work with Burkina Faso, other members of the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and other peace-loving nations of the world to overcome the scourge of international terrorism.

At Least 23 Killed In Burkina Faso Hotel

Burkina-FasoAt least 23 people have died after Islamist gunmen stormed a hotel in Burkina Faso’s Capital.

Reports said that the siege was over after at least 150 hostages were freed at Ouagadougou’s luxury splendid hotel.

Gunmen stormed the hotel and a nearby cafe after setting off bombs.

Four of the attackers were killed, two of them reportedly women.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said that it carried out the attack which killed citizens of 18 different nationalities in the West African nation.

French President, Francois Hollande, whose forces were part of the operation against the militants, condemned the attack while describing it as “odious and cowardly”.

Super Eagles Set For Tanzania Cracker

EaglesNigeria’s Super Eagles are set for Friday’s clash against Swaziland in the qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The team was received by officials of Nigeria High Commission and the Swazi Football Association.

The match is scheduled for the 20,000 capacity Somhlolo National Stadium in Lombamba at 6pm Nigerian time.

Meanwhile Germain Koole of Benin Republic has been picked as the centre referee for the match.

Koole will be assisted by compatriots Bienvenu Dina, Sena Houedin and Gustave Eugene.

Mohamed Bahou from Morocco will be the referee assessor with Zambian, Joseph Nkole as Match Commissioner.