OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Multiple jihadi attacks across Burkina Faso over several days have resulted in the death of at least 32 people, including soldiers and civilians, government authorities said Tuesday.
Burkina Faso’s State Information Agency posted on its Facebook page that a dozen soldiers and a civilian were killed Monday in Falagountou in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region during clashes between the military and jihadis. Another 20 people were killed in two attacks over the weekend in the country’s east-central and western regions.
Four people were executed Saturday afternoon when gunmen intercepted their van between Tenkodogo and Ouargaye villages. On Sunday, a passenger mini-bus coming from the western city of Banfora was intercepted by armed men, said Col. Jean Charles dit Yenapono Some, governor of the Cascades region in a statement. Eight women and one man were freed, the rest of the people were abducted and their lifeless bodies were found with bullet holes the following day, he said.
Jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State Group has ravaged the West African country for years killing thousands and displacing nearly 2 million people. Nearly 5,000 civilians have been killed since 2015, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).
The violence has sowed frustration and distrust among the population and led to two coups last year. The new junta leader, Ibrahim Traore, seized power in September promising to stem the violence but attacks are increasing.
Traore has mobilized tens of thousands of civilian fighters to combat the jihadis alongside the army. But analysts says the civilian fighters are accused of targeting other civilians perceived to be working with the jihadis, which is fueling retaliatory attacks.
“The types of mass-atrocities that are occurring were expected, as the conflict was expected to escalate in the coming months due to the increased mobilization of the population through the (volunteer) program and the increasing trend of extrajudicial killings by defence and security forces observed in recent months,” said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at ACLED.
“With the increase in state violence and state-sanctioned violence, it is not surprising that militant violence is escalating and further fueling cycles of attacks and retaliation,” he said.
Mednick reported from Dakar, Senegal.