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Burkina Faso: two days of national mourning after a fatal attack

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The President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kaboré on Sunday declared a national mourning of 48 hours after an attack by suspected jihadists in the north of the country which left 41 dead Thursday, civilians and army auxiliaries.

“The search mission on the ambush zone of armed terrorist groups against a column of Volunteer of Defense for the Fatherland (VDP) and civilians on Thursday December 23 (…) established a toll of 41 bodies”, explains a press release. by government spokesman Alkassoum Maïga, published on Saturday evening. “The President of Faso decrees a national mourning of 48 hours”, adds the text.

In its fight against jihadist groups, the Burkinabe army, weak and ill-equipped, relies on these “VDP”, civilian auxiliaries trained in two weeks, and who pay a heavy price in the anti-jihadist fight.

Among the victims is Ladji Yoro, considered a leader of the VDP, the statement said. The Burkinabe president paid tribute to Ladji Yoro on Friday. “This intrepid Volunteer for the Defense of the Fatherland must be the model of our determined commitment to fight the enemy”, tweeted the Head of State. No report on the attack was then provided by the executive.

“The identification of the victims is still in progress”, indicates the statement of the government which “strongly condemns this barbarism”.

The deadliest since the Inata attack

According to several Burkinabe media, an ambush of suspected jihadists on Thursday targeted a convoy of traders escorted by VDPs, about twenty km from Ouahigouya, in the north of the country. This attack is the deadliest since that of Inata (north), in mid-November, where 57 people including 53 gendarmes were killed, arousing the exasperation of the population and pushing the Burkinabe president to reshuffle the government a few weeks later.

Like its Malian and Nigerian neighbors, Burkina Faso has been caught since 2015 in a spiral of violence attributed to jihadist armed groups, affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, which have left at least 2,000 dead and 1.4 million people. displaced. Attacks targeting civilians and soldiers are increasingly frequent, the vast majority in the north and east of the country.

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