Burkina Faso attacks kill 12 security personnel

Burkina Faso attacks kill 12 security personnel

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP): Suspected militants in northern Burkina Faso have killed three soldiers and nine civilian auxiliaries, local and security sources said on Friday.

The twin attacks were carried out on Thursday in Bourzanga district, a security source and an official with the VDP auxiliary force said.

The landlocked Sahel state is wrestling with a seven-year-old militant insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven some two million people from their homes.

More than 40 percent of the country is no longer under government control, according to official figures.

Colonels staged a coup in January and have vowed to restore security.

But after a lull, attacks resumed and have escalated in recent months.

On June 11, 86 people were massacred at Seytenga in the northwest, in one of the bloodiest acts of the long-running insurgency.

Thirty-four villagers were killed on July 2 and 3 in the north and northwest.

The VDP — Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland — has borne the brunt of attacks on the security forces.

The force, set up in December 2019, comprises civilian volunteers who are given two weeks’ military training and then work alongside the army, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.

The VDP source said that in the latest attack, six militiamen were killed at the village of Alga and three at Boulounga, adding that “several attackers were also killed.”

The Seytenga attack prompted the authorities to set up two “zones of military interest” in the worst-hit regions of the north and east.

The idea is to have zones that are banned for civilians, giving the armed forces freer range to attack militants.

But on Wednesday, the army admitted that civilians had killed during an air strike in the east.

It gave no toll, but local inhabitants said that about 30 people, most of them women who had gone to attend ceremonies to inaugurate a mill, had died.

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