Ten soldiers and 32 civilian auxiliaries of Burkina Faso’s army were killed over the weekend in two attacks in the north of the country, which last week declared a “general mobilisation” against recurring jihadist violence.
On Saturday, a “military detachment and Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP, civilian auxiliaries to the army) was the target of an attack by unidentified armed men” at around 4pm, near Aorema, some 15km from Ouahigouya, according to a statement from the governor of the northern region, published on Sunday.
The army said that “the death toll is forty fighters” (“eight soldiers and thirty-two VDP”) and added that “at least 50 terrorists” had been “neutralised” in a “response”, notably from the air.
On Sunday, “early in the morning”, “another attack targeted the military detachment of Kongoussi (Bam province, Centre-North region)“, the same source said, reporting that “two soldiers” were killed and “some twenty terrorists neutralised”.
The governorate of the North region said in its statement that “33 wounded” from the first attack were “in a stable condition” and “being treated at the regional university hospital of Ouahigouya”, capital of the North region. The army writes that “two wounded” from the second attack have also been “evacuated for treatment”.
According to a security source contacted by AFP, the detachment targeted by Saturday’s attack was “providing security for the Ouahigouya airfield which was targeted”.
“Violent fighting did take place yesterday (Saturday) evening” for “nearly two hours”, said a resident of the town.
He also said that “several air strikes targeted positions of suspected jihadists” on Friday.
On Thursday, the transitional authorities in Burkina Faso – who came to power in a coup in September, the second in eight months – declared a “general mobilisation” and a “warning” to “give the state all the necessary means” to deal with the jihadist attacks that have hit the country.
With these measures, they will have in particular “the right to request people, goods and services” but also “the right to call for defence employment, individually or collectively”.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence launched an operation called “Empty Granaries”, calling on all the country’s military personnel, active or retired, to donate their uniforms for the soldiers currently on the ground.
Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been caught in a spiral of jihadist violence that began in Mali and Niger a few years ago.