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Burkina Faso again bereaved by an attack that left at least 50 dead

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This weekend, at least 50 civilians died in an attack by suspected jihadists on the village of Seytenga in northern Burkina Faso. The attack took place overnight from Saturday to Sunday, the government spokesman said. This is one of the heaviest tolls since the military junta took power in January.

At least 50 civilians died this weekend in an attack by suspected jihadists on the village of Seytenga in northern Burkina Faso, one of the heaviest tolls since the military junta took power in January. “The army has reviewed all the houses and so far 50 bodies have been found,” said government spokesman Lionel Bilgo, fearing a “heavier” toll. “Relatives have returned to Seytenga, and may have taken bodies away,” he explained during a press conference on Monday.

A previous attack killed eleven gendarmes

The attack took place overnight from Saturday to Sunday, the government spokesman said. Seytenga had already been hit on Thursday by a jihadist attack that killed eleven gendarmes. The Burkinabè army had announced that it had killed around forty jihadists following this attack. The murders of the weekend “are retaliation for the actions of the army which have bled” within the jihadist groups, estimated Lionel Bilgo. “The army is at work,” he said.

According to humanitarian organizations in the north of the country, 3,000 people have been collected from neighboring towns since Sunday after fleeing Seytenga.

One of the deadliest attacks since late January

It is one of the deadliest jihadist attacks since Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba took power in a coup at the end of January. He then overthrew President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who had become largely unpopular and accused of ineffectiveness against insecurity. Two attacks had particularly marked the spirits: the deadliest in the history of the country, against the village of Solhan (north-east) in June 2021, which had killed 132 people according to the government and that of Inata (north) in November 2021 where 57 gendarmes had been killed.

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This last attack had caused an electric shock in the army, which had taken power a few weeks later. After the coming to power of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba, who wanted to make security “his priority”, the attacks of these movements affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State had stalled. But they have taken over and killed nearly 300 civilians and soldiers in the past three months.

The north and the east, the most affected regions of the country

The north and east of the country, bordering Mali and Niger, are the regions most affected by jihadist violence. On Saturday, several hundred people demonstrated in Pama (east) to denounce the “abandonment” of this part of the country, “besieged” according to them by jihadist groups since last February. Since February, telephone masts and power lines have been sabotaged by armed jihadist groups, which also control the main axes of the area.

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Several municipalities in the north and east such as Djibo, Titao or Madjoari are placed under blockade by jihadists. The army sometimes manages to send supply convoys there. “Our troops are strained, put under constant pressure,” admitted Lionel Bilgo on Monday. Since 2015, attacks attributed to jihadists have left more than 2,000 dead and nearly two million displaced in Burkina Faso.

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