OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — At least 14 soldiers were killed and seven injured by extremists at the Yirgou military barracks in Burkina Faso’s Sanmatenga province on Monday, the government said.
The soldiers were targeted at 5 a.m. by a large number of heavily armed men and showed “great combativeness,” Minister of Defense Aime Barthelemy Simpore said in a statement. The government immediately launched an aerial and ground offensive, he said.
Locals near the attack said they were shocked, given there had been an increased military presence in the area recently.
“We are totally devastated because of what happened,” Abdoulaye Pafadnam, the mayor of nearby Barsalogho town, told the Associated Press by phone. “Many defense and security forces were sent to cover the area, and it was very encouraging to see that. We did not think that such an attack would happen in our zone….But when 12 soldiers get killed and equipment is taken away, it creates a big fear,‘’ he said.
Violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State is increasing across the once peaceful West African country. As of Saturday there were six explosives detonated within seven days killing eight people and wounding several others, according to a tweet by Menastream, a conflict monitoring consultancy. While attacks had previously been concentrated in the north and east, they’re expanding across the country. At least three of the explosives last week occurred in the west and southwest including the first deadly explosive in the Cascades region, according to Menastream.
Conflict analysts say the intensifying of attacks are due to some jihadist groups trying to consolidate gains before the rainy season ends, when violence typically increases and that the spike in explosives is a response to more airstrikes by the army, said Heni Nsaibia a senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
“One could assume that the explosives are both a response of choice to the airstrikes, and a way to deter movements by ground forces, in order to force them to become more static.” he said.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.