Twenty-one people, predominantly security forces were killed n Burkina Faso by suspected jihadist assailants, as stated by security sources on Wednesday.
Fourteen volunteer militia members of the VDP (Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland) and four soldiers were killed on Monday in Sawenga, a central-eastern region of Burkina Faso. The clash also left five others injured, as reported by a source.
The death toll was corroborated by another security official who indicated that the confrontation took place amidst an operation to secure the area. The official revealed that a subsequent airborne counter-strike neutralized over 50 terrorists.
Separately, a police officer and two civilians lost their lives during an attack on a police border post at Yendere, located on the southwestern border with Ivory Coast, on Monday night, according to a police source. A local truck driver confirmed the assault, noting that numerous locals have already escaped to Ivory Coast due to jihadist invasions.
The UN’s refugee agency reports that Ivory Coast is currently providing refuge to approximately 18,000 Burkinabe refugees, more than twice the number reported in 2022.
Burkina Faso, counted among the most impoverished and tumultuous countries worldwide, has been grappling with a jihadist insurgency that originated from neighboring Mali in 2015.
About one-third of the country is beyond the control of the government, based on official approximations. An NGO count reports over 10,000 fatalities, including civilians, military personnel, and police, with at least two million people displaced.
Mounting frustration within the military, due to the inability to curtail the insurgency, triggered two coups last year, resulting in the rise of a youthful army captain, Ibrahim Traore. The ruling junta has unequivocally rejected any negotiation with the jihadists.
The junta is heavily relying on the VDP, a civilian volunteer militia, for its anti-jihadist strategy. The militia, established in December 2019, has experienced hundreds of losses, primarily in ambushes or roadside bombings.
Nevertheless, authorities managed to attract 90,000 recruits last year, far surpassing the target of 50,000, despite these setbacks.