“Deadly Terrorist Attack in Burkina Faso: Frustration Mounts as Insurgency Continues”

Deadly Terrorist Attack in Burkina Faso Frustration Mounts as Insurgency Continues
Deadly Terrorist Attack in Burkina Faso Frustration Mounts as Insurgency Continues
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Armed terrorist groups attacked two villages in northeastern Burkina Faso, near the Niger border, resulting in the death of 44 civilians and injuring others. The attack targeted Kourakou and Tondobi villages overnight Thursday, and Lieutenant-governor of the Sahel region, Rodolphe Sorgho, described the attack as “despicable and barbaric”. Sorgho said 31 people had died in Kourakou, and 13 in Tondobi. The regional official announced that an army offensive put the “armed terrorist groups” behind the killings “out of action.” Burkina Faso is suffering from a 7-year-old campaign by militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

The villagers described the attack as a retaliation for the lynching of two militants who had tried to steal cattle a few days earlier. The village of Kourakou was one of the deadliest attacks since Captain Ibrahim Traore came to power in a coup last September. The latest twin attacks happened close to the village of Seytenga, where 86 civilians were killed last June in one of the bloodiest attacks of a long-running insurgency.

The Sahel country has been struggling with jihadist militants since 2015, who have launched their campaign from neighboring Mali. One NGO estimate states that more than 10,000 civilians, troops and police have been killed, and at least 2 million people have been displaced since then. Official figures state that militants effectively control around 40% of the country.

Frustration within the military led to two military coups last year, but Traore, who came to power in September, has vowed to fight back and recover conquered territory. Burkina Faso’s new military chief, Colonel Celestin Simpore, vowed to step up a “dynamic offensive” against jihadis after a string of insurgent attacks since the start of the year. The army has recently acquired foreign-made drones and regularly issues video footage of strikes against purported terrorists and troops described as reconquering and securing lost territory.

The situation has led to the suspension of all political parties and civil society organizations’ activities in the country since Traore seized power last year. The impoverished country is in dire need of stability, but the insurgency has made the situation worse. The government and the international community must work together to bring lasting peace and stability to the country.

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