The government reported late Tuesday that a jihadist strike in Burkina Faso’s north claimed the lives of 11 soldiers and left about 50 people missing.
After Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba overthrew Burkina Faso’s elected president in a coup in January and vowed to contain Islamists, violence erupted in the landlocked west African nation.
Even though Damiba fired his defense minister earlier this month and took over the position himself, insurgents linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization have fueled the turmoil, as they do in neighboring nations.
According to government spokesman Lionel Bilgo, “a convoy transporting supplies to Djibo town was the target of a vicious and savage attack.”
“Eleven soldiers’ dead have been discovered, according to the preliminary toll… There are continuous searches for about 50 missing citizens.
According to a security source, there may be as many as 60 fatalities.
The convoy was attacked on Monday in Gaskinde in the Sahel province of Soum.
Such army-escorted convoys provide necessities to northern communities, like Djibo, which are being blocked off by jihadists who have detonated bridges over major roadways.
On Monday, a source claimed that “practically the entire convoy was burned.” Videos that AFP obtained showed burned-out automobiles.
Four people were injured on Sunday when an improvised explosive device targeted a different army-escorted resupply convoy in the Sahel, according to security sources, but the convoy made it to its destination on Monday.
At least 35 civilians were killed in an IED attack on a convoy in early September, according to the governor of the Sahel area at the time.
Burkina Faso, a former French colony, has more than 40% of its territory that is ungoverned.
Since the insurgency entered Burkina Faso in 2015, thousands have perished in the fighting, and two million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Now, the insurgency is being fought across most of the Sahel region; it has even reached Niger. In recent years, the violence has started to spread into the coastal nations of Togo and Ivory Coast.
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German research tank, stated in a report published in April that “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.”For almost ten years, French forces helped Mali fight off rebels, but after a disagreement with the Malian junta following a military coup, President Emmanuel Macron chose to end the support. Last month, the final French soldiers from Operation Barkhane left.