Around 40 people have been killed in a fresh wave of attacks in Burkina Faso, in areas where jihadist attacks are rife, sources said on Friday 19th of May 2023.
In the most recent violence, around 20 people were killed in a series of raids on villages in Burkina Faso’s troubled north, security sources and residents told AFP. Armed men attacked three villages early on Thursday in the country’s northern Yatenga province.
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“Yesterday at around 5:00 am (local and GMT), armed groups attacked the villages of Pelle, Zanna and Nongfaire”, a resident said on Friday, giving a toll of 25 people killed. There were “many others wounded”, the resident said.
Another resident said, “The assailants, who came on motorbikes, were chased by volunteers (civilian auxiliaries of the army) and soldiers”. The attack was confirmed by a security source, who put the death toll at “around 20”, adding that search operations were underway to find the assailants.
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The attackers “were hit by air support after taking refuge in the Barga forest,” said another security source. “Several of them died.” Earlier on Friday, there were reports that another 20 people had been killed in separate attacks by suspected jihadists in eastern Burkina Faso this week.
Armed men on Monday raided the village of Kaongo in the southeastern province of Koulpelogo, killing at least 11 people including two women and children. Two days later the neighbouring village of Bilguimdoure was targeted, “leaving around 10 dead”, a local official said.
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Insurgency in Burkina Faso attacks
The attackers torched homes and stores in the two villages and made off with cattle, the official added. Sources in the security forces confirmed those attacks and said that operations were underway to secure the area. People living in the district said that residents were fleeing the area, terrified of further attacks.
Koulpelogo, located on Burkina’s border with Togo and Ghana, has been repeatedly attacked by Islamist militants this year, despite a crackdown by the army and a volunteer civilian militia, the VDP. Last month, at least 24 people, including 20 VDP members, were killed in two raids in the troubled region.
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The impoverished landlocked Sahel state is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015. More than 10,000 civilians, troops and police have died, according to NGO estimates, while at least two million people have fled their homes and more than a third of the country lies outside the government’s control.
Anger within the military at the mounting toll triggered two coups last year.
On Friday, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that Australian doctor Kenneth Elliott, 88, had been freed more than seven years after he and his wife were snatched in Burkina by Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists. The couple had run the sole medical clinic in Djibo, a town near the border with Mali, since 1972.
Elliott’s spouse Jocelyn was released three weeks after the abduction. Her husband returned to Australia on Thursday night, according to the Australian government. Wong’s statement said that the government and Elliott’s family had “worked tirelessly” for his freedom. It gave no details about the circumstances of his release.
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© Agence France-Presse