At least 18 civilians, including 16 army aides, were killed in two attacks by suspected jihadists in northern and northwestern Burkina Faso on Thursday, security sources told AFP on Friday.
“The first attack targeted an outpost of Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) in Rakoegtenga,” a city in Bam province (north), a VDP official said.
According to the same source, “The toll of this attack is six fallen volunteers (killed, ed.). A woman was also killed in this attack, bringing the death toll to seven.
“A dozen wounded were also recorded, some seriously injured and evacuated to Ouagadougou for appropriate care,” the VDP official continued.
According to him, the second attack in the province of Nayala (north-west) “taken place in the afternoon, when a convoy escorted by volunteers and soldiers was ambushed on the Siena-Saran axis”; A dozen relief workers and one civilian were killed in the attack.
Security sources joined by AFP confirmed the two “jihadist attacks” without providing a precise assessment, only mentioning “many casualties among security elements.”
Since 2015, Burkina Faso has faced increasing attacks from jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, particularly in its northern half. They left thousands dead and at least two million displaced.
Last week around 60 women and small children were kidnapped by suspected jihadists near Arbinda in northern Burkina.
Captain Ibrahim Traoré, interim president after a military coup on September 30 – the second in eight months – has set himself the goal of “taking back the territory occupied by these hordes of terrorists”.
In late 2022, the government launched a campaign to recruit new auxiliaries to help the army fight the jihadists. Out of an estimated need of 50,000, 90,000 people have registered.
VDPs are currently undergoing 14 days of civic and military training before being armed and equipped with communications.
They are paying a high price in the attacks of the jihadists who control 40% of Burkinabe territory.