At least 50 killed in Burkina Faso rebel attack: Government

Burkinabe police in the city of Ouahigouya in the north of the country in 2018 [File photo Issouf Sanogo/AFP]

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been gripped by conflict that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

At least 50 people have died in an attack by armed men on a village in northern Burkina Faso, a government spokesman said.

The attackers struck overnight between Saturday and Sunday in Seytenga commune, part of Seno province, which lies in borderlands where fighters linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) are embroiled in an armed uprising.

“The army has so far found 50 bodies” after the village of Seytenga was attacked overnight Saturday, spokesman Lionel Bilgo said on Monday, adding that the death toll “may rise”.

The United Nations condemned the attack, which it said had “claimed many victims”, in a statement on Monday and called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Seytenga was the site of bloody fighting last week between rebels and government forces.

Eleven police were killed on Thursday, prompting a military operation that the army said led to the deaths of around 40 rebel fighters.

“The bloodshed was caused by reprisals to the army’s actions,” government spokesman Bilgo said.

“The country has been hit but the army is doing its job.”

Humanitarian organisations in the region said around 3,000 people were being housed in neighbouring towns after fleeing from the village.

The attack is one of the bloodiest since a military coup in January, when colonels in the national army – angered at the failure of officials to defeat the armed groups – ousted the country’s elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The country’s new strongman, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, immediately vowed to make security his key priority.

After a relative lull in fighting following the coup, attacks have resumed, inflicting a toll of hundreds of civilian and military deaths over the past three months. Attacks have been concentrated in the country’s north and east.

The landlocked Sahel state is in the grip of a seven-year-old armed uprising that has claimed more than 2,000 lives and forced some 1.9 million people to flee their homes in Burkina Faso since 2015.



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