More than 70 soldiers killed in Burkina Faso, extremists say
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for killing more than 70 soldiers, wounding dozens and taking five hostage, in an ambush on a military convoy in northern Burkina Faso. The statement, posted Friday by Amaq, the group’s news agency, said it attacked a convoy trying to advance to areas under its control near Deou, in the Sahel's Oudalan province. It said it seized weapons and chased retreating soldiers for miles into the desert. Images released by the group show 54 slain bodies in military uniform lying in the bloodstained dirt, as well as more than 50 seized assault rifles and images of the five soldiers it said were taken prisoner. Read More: Burkina Faso says 66 women, children freed from extremists The announcement comes one week after the attack in Deou and days after another attack in Tin-Akoff town, where locals and civil society groups say dozens more soldiers and civilians were killed when a military outpost was hit. It's unclear how many people have been killed in the two incidents. Last week the government confirmed that 51 soldiers died in the Deou ambush but it has not responded to requests for updated numbers or commented on the attack in Tin-Akoff. Violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has wracked the country for seven years killing thousands and displacing nearly 2 million people. Frustration at the government's inability to stem the violence led to two coups last year, each one preceded by a major attack on the military. This is the deadliest ambush on soldiers since the new junta leader, Capt. Ibrahim Traore, seized power in September and analysts say it could threaten his grip on power. “There’s a persistent stream of militant attacks north of the country and the public is undoubtedly taking notice of their government's inability to provide security. Any further attacks this colossal could threaten a public scene and even threaten to unseat the junta,” said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, which provides intelligence analysis. One soldier involved in the ambush in Deou, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said their convoy was outnumbered as more than 300 jihadis encircled them, firing rockets and mortars. “We lost many men”, he said. The large number of jihadis and the different colored headscarves they were wearing appeared like a coalition of many extremist franchises that he hadn't seen before, he said. The Islamic State and an al-Qaida linked group, known by its acronym JNIM, are not known to work together, but rather have been fighting each other for territory and influence in the country as well as in neighboring Mali where they operate. Analysts say it's extremely unlikely they would have joined forces. Some locals say the increase of jihadi violence against the military is revenge for torture and extrajudicial killings by soldiers against people presumed to be jihadis. Hamadou Boureima Diallo, a local journalist in the Sahel's Dori town, told The Associated Press by phone that he spoke with locals who witnessed the latest attack in Tin-Akoff and were able to flee and that they blamed the killings on revenge. “These recent bloody attacks against soldiers is because when the soldiers arrest terrorists or presumed terrorists they torture them and make photos or videos that circulate on social media," said Diallo, recounting what the locals said. "We have seen some of the videos where presumed terrorists are being tortured. ... This is not good,” he said.
Burkina Faso says 66 women, children freed from extremists
Burkina Faso's army has freed 66 women and children who were abducted earlier this month by Islamic extremists while gathering food in the country's northern Sahel region, according to a state television report Friday. National broadcaster RTB reported that armed forces had located the hostages during a military operation in Center-North region. The group included 39 children, with four infants among them. Authorities have said they had been out in the countryside gathering wild fruit near the town of Arbinda in Soum province when Islamic extremists kidnapped them on Jan. 12 and 13. Extremists have besieged towns around the West African country, preventing people and goods from moving freely. The town of Arbinda has been under jihadi blockade for years, making women more vulnerable to attacks if they try to leave, rights groups say. Also Read: 55 people killed in latest attack in northern Burkina Faso Jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has overrun Burkina Faso, killing thousands and displacing nearly 2 million people in the West African nation. The failure of successive governments to stop the fighting has caused widespread discontent and triggered two military coups in 2022. The military junta that seized power in September, vowing to restore security, is still struggling to stem the violence.
Hunger grips Burkina Faso due to increasing jihadi violence
Martine Roamba’s 10-month-old daughter weakly tugs at her mother’s breast searching for milk. The malnourished baby has been struggling to feed since birth as her mother hasn't had enough to eat to produce sufficient breastmilk since fleeing her village in northern Burkina Faso last year when jihadis started killing people. Seated on a hospital bed with other severely malnourished children and their parents on the outskirts of Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, 30-year-old Roamba tries to calm her crying daughter. Also read: Gold mining site blast reportedly kills 59 in Burkina Faso “It’s very worrying and we’re praying to God that the baby doesn’t deteriorate into an even worse situation,” she said. Hunger is soaring across conflict-ridden Burkina Faso, a result of increasing violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, which has killed thousands and displaced millions, preventing people from farming. Some 3.5 million people are food insecure, with nearly 630,000 expected to be on the brink of starvation, according to the latest food security report by the government and U.N. agencies. This is an 82% increase from last year of people facing emergency hunger. “The nutrition situation in (the country) is deteriorating more and more, there are more and more people in need,” said Claudine Konate, a nutrition specialist for the U.N. Children's Agency, UNICEF. The country has to prepare for a growing crisis, she said. At the hospital in Ouagadougou, the number of severely malnourished children arriving has doubled from two years ago and there isn’t enough space or staff to care for them, said Clarisse Nikiema, head of nutrition at the hospital. “Because they were displaced, they are deeply impoverished and can’t feed their families, so children become malnourished,” she said. Sometimes after recovering, families refuse to leave because they don’t want their children going hungry at home where there’s no food, she said. In January, mutinous soldiers ousted Burkina Faso’s democratically elected president, and the ruling junta says that restoring security is their top priority. However, attacks have since increased with an 11% rise in incidents in February, according to the U.N. The violence is driving more people closer to starvation, say experts. The situation is most dire in the northern Sahel region, where cities like Djibo have until recently been besieged by jihadi rebels for months, restricting the delivery of food aid. Other towns like Gorom Gorom, have almost no operating health centers. Only two out of 27 in the district are fully functioning, said Jean Paul Ouedraogo, representative for the Italian-based aid group Lay Volunteers International Association. Jihadi rebels are also expanding and pushing south and west into Burkina Faso's breadbasket, stealing crops and livestock and chasing people from their rural farms and into cities. The decreasing supply and increase in demand is causing prices to spike. A bag of 100 kilograms of corn has nearly doubled since last year from $30 to $50, say locals. Aid organizations are bracing for more price hikes because of the war in Ukraine. Burkina Faso buys more than a third of its wheat from Russia, according to the U.N., and while the impact is not yet visible, humanitarians say it’s a concern. “The crisis in Ukraine is also likely to impact soaring grain prices, making an already bad situation worse,” said Gregoire Brou, country director for Action Against Hunger in Burkina Faso. Aid for the country is already underfunded — last year’s humanitarian response plan received less than half of the requested $607 million, according to the UN — and now agencies say donors have indicated there could be a 70% cut to funding in order to support operations in Ukraine. Also read:Soldiers declare military junta in control in Burkina Faso Meanwhile hunger is affecting virtually everyone in the country, even those trying to defend it. During a trip to the northern town of Ouahigouya, civilians who volunteered to fight alongside the army, told The Associated Press they’re battling jihadis on empty stomachs. “The volunteers fight for the country, but they fight with hunger,” said one volunteer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The lack of farming and minimal pay as a volunteer — $8 a month — isn’t enough to subsist on, he said. Malnourished people are arriving at health centers in Ouahigouya in severe condition and taking longer to recover, said Dr. Gerard Koudougou Kombassere, who works at a hospital in the town. Displaced people are the most affected and malnutrition rates among them are rising, he said. In a makeshift displacement camp in Ouahigouya where some 2,300 people have sought refuge, residents told AP they have received food assistance only once in the past 10 months. At one of the shelters, Salamata Nacanabo said her family used to eat five times a day when they lived in their village, but now they eat just once. Mimicking the sound of gunshots, the 31-year-old recounts the day jihadis stormed her village killing eight people, seizing everything she owned and forcing her family to flee. “They stole everything, cattle, food, and they took my goats," she said. “Now it’s very hard to take care of the children.”
Soldiers declare military junta in control in Burkina Faso
More than a dozen mutinous soldiers declared Monday on state television that a military junta had seized control of Burkina Faso after detaining the democratically elected president following a day of gunbattles in the capital of the West African country. The military coup in a nation that was once a bastion of stability was the third of its kind in the region in the last 18 months, creating upheaval in some of the countries hardest hit by Islamic extremist attacks. Capt. Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo said the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration “has decided to assume its responsibilities before history.” The soldiers put an end to President Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s presidency because of the deteriorating security situation and the president’s inability to manage the crisis, he said. It was not immediately known where Kabore was, and the junta spokesman said only that the coup had taken place “without any physical violence against those arrested, who are being held in a safe place, with respect for their dignity.” A soldier in the mutiny, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of situation, told The Associated Press that Kabore had submitted his resignation. The new military regime said it had suspended Burkina Faso’s constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. The country’s borders were closed, and a curfew was in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Ouedraogo said that the country’s new leaders would work to establish a calendar “acceptable to everyone” for holding new elections without giving further details. After the televised announcement, crowds took to the streets, cheering and honking car horns in support of the takeover. People hoped that the coup would ease the devastation they have endured since jihadist violence spread across the country. “This is an opportunity for Burkina Faso to regain its integrity. The previous regime sunk us. People are dying daily. Soldiers are dying. There are thousands of displaced,” said Manuel Sip, a protester in downtown Ouagadougou. The army should have acted faster in ousting the president, he said. After the overthrow of strongman Blaise Compaore in 2014, several people told the AP they no longer cared if they had a democratically elected leader. They just wanted to live in peace. The communique read aloud on state broadcaster RTB was signed by the country’s apparent new military leader, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba. He sat beside the spokesman without addressing the camera during the announcement. Read: At least 6 reported dead in crush at African Cup soccer game United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on coup leaders to lay down their arms. He reiterated the U.N.’s “full commitment to the preservation of the constitutional order” in Burkina Faso and support for the people in their efforts “to find solutions to the multifaceted challenges facing the country,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. The U.N. chief said the military takeover was part of “an epidemic of coups around the world and in that region.” The U.S. State Department in a statement expressed deep concern about the dissolution of the government, suspension of the constitution and the detention of government leaders. “We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to deescalate the situation, prevent harm to President Kaboré and any other members of his government in detention, and return to civilian-led government and constitutional order,” spokesperson Ned Price said. In a statement, Kabore’s political party accused the mutinous soldiers of trying to assassinate the president and another government minister and said the presidential palace in Ouagadougou remained surrounded by “heavily armed and hooded men.” The coup “is a signal of frustration and exasperation on the heels of a growing struggle to stem the threat of militants, cope with the degraded security structure, and an attempt to restore faith in the institution of the military,” said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, which provides intelligence analysis. Gunfire erupted early Sunday when soldiers took control of a major military barracks in the capital. In response, civilians rallied in a show of support for the rebellion but were dispersed by security forces firing tear gas. On Monday, groups of people celebrated again in the streets of the capital after reports of Kabore’s capture. Kabore was elected in 2015 after the popular uprising that ousted Compaore. Kabore was reelected in November 2020, but frustration has been growing at his inability to stem the jihadist violence. Attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have killed thousands and displaced more than an estimated 1.5 million people. The military has suffered losses since the extremist violence began in 2016. In December, more than 50 security forces were killed and nine more died in November. Mutinous soldiers told the AP that the government was out of touch with troops. Among their demands are more forces in the battle against extremists and better care for the wounded and the families of the dead. Read: 4 killed, 1 hurt in ‘ambush’ shooting at house party near LA About 100 military members have planned the takeover since August, according to one of the mutinous soldiers. The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS said in a statement that it was following events in Ouagadougou with “great concern.” The bloc has already suspended Mali and Guinea over military coups. Those coup leaders appear in no hurry to return their countries to civilian rule. Burkina Faso has also seen its share of coup attempts and military takeovers, although it experienced a period of relative stability under Compaore, who ruled for 27 years until his ouster in 2014. In 1987, Compaore came to power by force. And in 2015, soldiers loyal to him attempted to overthrow the transitional government put into place after his ouster. The army was ultimately able to put the transitional authorities back in power, who led again until Kabore won an election and took office.
Burkina Faso’s President Kabore is held by mutinous soldiers
Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore is being held by mutinous soldiers, two of the soldiers told The Associated Press by phone early Monday. They did not say where Kabore is being held, but said he is in a safe place. Gunshots were heard late Sunday night near the president’s residence and in the early hours of Monday a battle took place at the presidential palace while a helicopter flew overhead. The roads of the capital were empty Sunday night except for checkpoints heavily guarded by mutinous soldiers. State news station RTB was heavily guarded on Monday morning. Read: US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount Fighting began on Sunday when soldiers took control of the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks in the capital, Ouagadougou. Civilians drove into town in a show of support for the rebellion but were broken up by security forces firing tear gas. The mutiny came a day after a public demonstration calling for Kabore’s resignation, the latest in a series of anti-Kabore protests as anger has mounted over his government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency. The government has not made any statements since Sunday when Minister of Defense Aime Barthelemy Simpore told state broadcaster RTB that a few barracks had been affected by unrest not only in Ouagadougou but in other cities, too. He denied, however, that the president had been detained by the mutineers, even though Kabore’s whereabouts was unknown. “Well, it’s a few barracks. There are not too many,” Simpore said. Kabore had been leading Burkina Faso since being elected in 2015 after a popular uprising ousted longtime strongman President Blaise Compaore who was in power for nearly three decades. Kabore was reelected in November 2020 for another five-year term, however, frustration has been growing at his inability to stem the spread of jihadist violence across the country. Attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are escalating, killing thousands and displacing more than an estimated 1.5 million people. The military has suffered losses since the extremist violence began in 2016. In December more than 50 security forces were killed in the Sahel region and nine security forces were killed in the Center North region in November. Read: Oxford High School reopening nearly 2 months after shooting Angry mutinous soldiers told the AP that the government was disconnected from its forces in the field and that their colleagues were dying and they wanted military rule. The soldiers put a man on the phone who said that they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s military amid the escalating fight against Islamic militants. Among their demands are increased manpower in the battle against extremists and better care for those wounded and the families of the dead.
Gunfire near home of Burkina Faso’s leader after army mutiny
Gunfire rang out late Sunday near the home of Burkina Faso’s embattled President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, raising the specter that a military coup might still be under way after mutinous soldiers seized a military base earlier in the day. Government officials had sought to reassure people that the situation was under control even as shots rang out for hours at the army base. But by day’s end anti-government protesters supporting the mutineers also had set fire to a building belonging to Kabore’s party. It was not immediately known whether Kabore was at home but several people in the area told The Associated Press that in addition to gunfire they could hear helicopters hovering overhead. A mutinous soldier also told AP by phone that heavy fighting was under way near the presidential palace, a claim that could not immediately be independently corroborated. Sunday’s mutiny came one day after the latest public demonstration calling for Kabore’s resignation as anger has mounted over the government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency. Anti-government protesters lent public support to the mutinous soldiers, prompting security forces to use tear gas to disperse crowds in the capital. Read:Extremist attack in Burkina Faso kills at least 20 The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS, which already has suspended Mali and Guinea in the past 18 months over military coups, issued a statement of support for Burkina Faso’s embattled president and urged dialogue with the mutineers. Defense Minister Aime Barthelemy Simpore told state broadcaster RTB that a few barracks had been affected by unrest not only in the capital of Ouagadougou but in other cities, too. He denied, however, that the president had been detained by the mutineers, even though Kabore’s whereabouts remained unknown. “Well, it’s a few barracks. There are not too many,” Simpore said. “In some of these barracks, the calm has already returned. So that’s it for the moment. As I said, we are monitoring the situation.” A news headline on the state broadcaster described the gunfire as “acts of discontent by soldiers.” “Contrary to some information, no institution of the republic has been targeted,” the headline continued. At the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks in the capital, however, angry soldiers shot into the air Sunday, directing their anger over army casualties at the president. About 100 motorcycles later left the base, chanting in support of the mutineers, but were stopped when security forces deployed tear gas. The soldiers put a man on the phone with The Associated Press who said that they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s military amid the escalating fight against Islamic militants. Among their demands are increased manpower in the battle against extremists and better care for those wounded and the families of the dead. The mutinous soldiers also want the military and intelligence hierarchy replaced, he said. There were signs Sunday that their demands were supported by many in Burkina Faso who are increasingly distressed by the attacks blamed on al-Qaida and Islamic State-linked groups. Thousands have died in recent years from those attacks and around 1.5 million people have been displaced. “We want the military to take power,” said Salif Sawadogo as he tried to avoid tear gas on the streets of Ouagadougou. “Our democracy is not stable.” Kabore first took office in 2015, winning the election held after longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising. Still, Kabore has faced growing opposition since his reelection in November 2020 as the country’s Islamic extremism crisis has deepened. Last month he fired his prime minister and replaced most of the Cabinet, but critics have continued calling for his resignation. On Sunday, protesters who supported the army mutiny said they had had enough of Kabore even though the next presidential election isn’t until 2025. Demonstrator Aime Birba said the violence under Kabore has been unlike anything Burkina Faso experienced during the nearly three decades Compaore was in power. “We are currently under another form of dictatorship,” he said. “ A president who is not able to take security measures to secure his own people is not a president worthy of the name.” Earlier this month, authorities had arrested a group of soldiers accused of participating in a foiled coup plot. It was not immediately known whether there was any connection between those soldiers and the ones who led a mutiny Sunday. Military prosecutors said nine soldiers and two civilians were being held in connection with the plot. West Africa has seen a spate of military coups in West Africa over the past 18 months, causing the regional bloc known as ECOWAS to suspend two member states simultaneously for the first time since 2012. In August 2020, a mutiny at a Malian military barracks led to the democratically elected president being detained. He later announced his resignation on national television, and the junta leader there doesn’t want new elections for four more years. In September 2021, Guinea’s president also was overthrown by a military junta that remains in power to this day. Read: Jihadis expand control to new Burkina Faso fronts Burkina Faso, too has seen its share of coup attempts and military takeovers. In 1987, Compaore came to power by force. And in 2015, soldiers loyal to him attempted to overthrow the transitional government put into place after his ouster. The army was ultimately able to put the transitional authorities back in power, who led again until Kabore won an election and took office.
Jihadis expand control to new Burkina Faso fronts
Florent Coulibaly, a soldier in Burkina Faso’s army, says he hasn’t been sleeping well for the past few months as he is often roused at 3 a.m. to fight jihadi rebels. Until recently life was peaceful in western Burkina Faso’s Comoe province, but an increase in attacks by extremist groups in the country’s west has put the military on edge. “It tires us. It gives us a lot of work. It scares us, too,” said Coulibaly, 27. “We don’t know where (the jihadis) are going to come from. They see us, but we don’t see them. They know us, but we don’t know them.” Also read: Burkina Faso says at least 100 civilians killed in attack Over the past six months, his battalion has doubled its patrols from once a week to twice, but Coulibaly says the men are ill-equipped, overworked and worry the area could be overrun by jihadis. Burkina Faso is experiencing an increase in extremist violence by groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Last month, at least 11 police officers were killed when their patrol was ambushed in the north. The country also experienced its deadliest violence in years when at least 132 civilians were killed in an attack in its Sahel region. The jihadi rebels are also expanding their reach within Burkina Faso. Extremist violence centered in the country’s north and east has spread into the west and southwest areas near Mali and Ivory Coast, bringing residents and security forces in those areas to brace for more conflict. The move into western Burkina Faso makes strategic sense for the groups who can use it as a base to extend their operations in West Africa. The thick vegetation gives them cover and the area can give them territorial control over the smuggling route between Gulf of Guinea countries and Mali. Attacks in three regions of Burkina Faso’s south and southwest quadrupled from four to 17 between 2018 and 2019, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. There were nine attacks last year — a reduction that analysts attribute to increased military operations as well as the expansion of violence across the border in neighboring Ivory Coast. In June, a soldier was killed in northeastern Ivory Coast on the border with Burkina Faso, and in March there was an attack by 60 gunmen on two security outposts in Ivory Coast, killing three people. Also read: Gunmen kill 24 in attack near church in Burkina Faso “This attack confirmed the intention of armed groups to target the north of coastal countries. This is likely a new phase in the groups’ strategy to expand into these areas,” said Florent Geel, deputy director-general for Promediation, an international organization focused on mediation. During a trip in April to the towns of Banfora and Gaoua in the west and southwest, as well as one village near the border with Ivory Coast, local defense groups and security forces told The Associated Press they didn’t have the manpower to stem the violence and felt like it was just a matter of time until the area was inundated by jihadis. Civilians also say they’ve started living in fear. Last year, for the first time, jihadis posted notes on classroom doors warning students and teachers to stay away, said a 35-year-old primary teacher in a village in Comoe province who didn’t want to be named for fear of his safety. While his village hasn’t been attacked, it has become militarized with checkpoints stoking paranoia among residents. “The situation is deteriorating .. In the past you could leave (the village) at midnight with your motorbike ... But today you are not going to take the risk ... When you’re sleeping you’re on the lookout, when you hear a strange noise you startle, but before it wasn’t like that,” he said. Large numbers of teachers, including himself, are asking to transfer from less secure villages, which are easier for jihadis to attack, into larger towns like Banfora, he said. Burkina Faso’s army is also trying to work with the Ivorian military by conducting joint patrols and sharing intelligence, but during at least one clash with jihadis, the Ivorian soldiers refused to fight, the military said. Some areas have no security presence and rely on local defense groups to stave off extremists. In Gaoua, a group of Dozos — traditional hunters who operate across the region — said they’re often the first to arrive when there is an attack, with the army showing up three hours later or not at all. “It’s discouraging,” said Noufe Sansan, a Dozo chief. Pointing to a text message on his phone that he received from a security officer informing him that there are more than 60 extremists hiding in a nearby forest, he said news of attacks in the once peaceful area have become almost daily. The Dozos are trying to strengthen their forces and alert the community of the potential for future violence, but want help from the government. Two years ago, they asked for 24 motorbikes to increase mobility to better respond to attacks, but have yet to receive anything, he said. Meanwhile, civilians who escaped the volatility in the north in hopes of rebuilding their lives in more peaceful parts of the country, say they’re fed up from fleeing. Seated on the ground in Niangoloko village, 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Ivory Coast’s border, Saydou Gamsore described how he fled his home last year because of the extremist violence and said if he’s attacked again, he’d rather die than keep moving. “We are tired of running away,” said the 76-year-old. “Even if it means death … I will stay here.”
Angelina Jolie visits Burkina Faso as U.N. Special Envoy
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has visited war-weakened Burkina Faso to show solidarity with people who continue to welcome the displaced, despite grappling with their own insecurity, and said the world isn’t doing enough to help. “The humanitarian crisis in the Sahel seems to me to be totally neglected. It is treated as being of little geopolitical importance,” Jolie told the Associated Press. “There’s a bias in the way we think about which countries and which people matter.” Read: Burkina Faso says at least 100 civilians killed in attack While Burkina Faso has been battling a five-year Islamic insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State that’s killed thousands and displaced more than one million people, it is also hosting more than 22,000 refugees, the majority Malian. As Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Jolie marked World Refugee Day on Sunday in Burkina Faso’s Goudoubo refugee camp in the Sahel, where she finished a two-day visit. She spoke with the camp’s Malian refugees and internally displaced people in the nation’s hard-hit Center-North and Sahel regions. After 20 years of work with the U.N. refugee agency, Jolie told the AP the increasing displacement meant the world was on a “terrifying trajectory towards instability”, and that governments had to do something about the conflicts driving the vast numbers of refugees. “Compared to when I began working with UNHCR twenty years ago, it seems like governments have largely given up on diplomacy ... countries which have the least are doing the most to support the refugees,” she said. Read:Churchill painting owned by Angelina Jolie sells for $11.5M “The truth is we are not doing half of what we could and should ... to enable refugees to return home, or to support host countries, like Burkina Faso, coping for years with a fraction of the humanitarian aid needed to provide basic support and protection,” Jolie said. Malians began fleeing to Burkina Faso in 2012 after their lives were upended by an Islamic insurgency, where it took a French-led military intervention to regain power in several major towns. The fighting has since spread across the border to Burkina Faso, creating the fastest growing displacement crisis in the world. Last month Burkina Faso experienced its deadliest attack in years, when gunmen killed at least 132 civilians in Solhan village in the Sahel’s Yagha province, displacing thousands. The increasing attacks are stretching the U.N.’s ability to respond to displaced people within the country as well as the refugees it’s hosting. “Funding levels for the response are critically low and with growing numbers of people forced to flee ... the gap is widening,” UNHCR representative in Burkina Faso Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde told the AP. Read:Angelina Jolie lauds Bangladesh’s leadership role in Rohingya crisis The attacks are also exacerbating problems for refugees who came to the country seeking security. “We insisted on staying (in Burkina Faso), (but) we stay with fear. We are too scared,” said Fadimata Mohamed Ali Wallet, a Malian refugee living in the camp. “Today there is not a country where there isn’t a problem. This (terrorism) problem covers all of Africa,” she said.
Burkina Faso says at least 100 civilians killed in attack
Gunmen killed at least 100 people in a northern Burkina Faso village, the government said Saturday, in what was the country’s deadliest attack in years. The attack took place Friday evening in Solhan village, in the Sahel’s Yagha province, government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura said in a statement blaming jihadists. The local market and several homes were also burned down in the area toward the border of Niger, he said. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore called the attack “barbaric.” Read:Killer of 8 in California had talked of workplace attacks This is the deadliest attack recorded in Burkina Faso since the West African country was overrun by jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State about five years ago, said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. “It is clear that militant groups have shifted up gears to aggravate the situation in Burkina Faso, and moved their efforts to areas outside the immediate reach of the French-led counter-terrorism coalition fighting them in the tri-state border region,” he said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Despite the presence of more than 5,000 French troops in the Sahel, jihadist violence is increasing. In one week in April, more than 50 people were killed in Burkina Faso, including two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist. More than 1 million people in the country have been internally displaced. A local who did not want to be named, fearing for his safety, was visiting relatives in a medical clinic in Sebba town, approximately 12 kilometers from where the attacks occurred. He said he saw many wounded people enter the clinic. Read: US sanctions Myanmar military and junta leaders for attacks “I saw 12 people in one room and about 10 in another. There were many relatives caring for the wounded. There were also many people running from Solhan to enter Sebba....People are very afraid and worried,” he told the Associated Press by phone. The government has declared 72 hours of mourning. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was outraged by the killings and offered the world body’s full support to authorities in their efforts to overcome the threats to the peace and stability in Burkina Faso according to his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. “He strongly condemns the heinous attack and underscores the urgent need for the international community to redouble support to Member States in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human toll,” Dujarric said in a statement. Islamic extremists have been increasingly staging assaults in Burkina Faso, especially in the region that borders Niger and Mali. Read:AP statement on Israeli attack on building housing AP office Last month, gunmen killed at least 30 people in eastern Burkina Faso near the border with Niger. Burkina Faso’s ill-equipped army has been struggling to contain the spread of jihadists. The government enlisted the help of volunteer fighters last year to help the army, but the volunteers have incurred retaliation by extremists who target them and the communities they help. Mali also is experiencing a political crisis that has led to the suspension of international support. France has said it is ceasing joint military operations with Malian forces until the West African nation’s junta complies with international demands to restore civilian rule.
President, PM greet Burkina Faso counterparts on their National Day
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have congratulated Roch Marc Christian Kabore, President of Burkina Faso and Christophe Joseph Marie Dabire, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso respectively on the occasion of the National Day of Burkina Faso that falls on on 11 December 2020.