Burkina Faso: 37 dead in the worst jihadist attack in 5 years

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An ambush on a convoy carrying employees of a Canadian mining company in eastern Burkina Faso on Wednesday killed 37 people and wounded 60, the deadliest attack recorded in the country since the start of jihadist violence. five years.

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“The provisional record of this ambush shows 37 civilian deaths and 60 wounded,” said the governor of the eastern region, Colonel Saidou Sanou.

The attack, carried out in the morning by “unidentified armed individuals”, targeted a convoy of five buses carrying workers from a gold mine of the Canadian company Semafo, on the road Ouragou-Boungou, in the province of the Tapoa, according to a statement from the governor of the region and according to Semafo.

The five buses were carrying personnel, contractors and suppliers related to the mining company, and they were escorted by soldiers.

The attack occurred 40 kilometers from the Boungou gold mine (owned by Semafo), whose activities were unaffected, the company said.

Semafo initially reported on “several dead and wounded”. The attackers conducted a “complex attack,” the Burkinabè government said in a statement Wednesday night.

“A military vehicle carrying the convoy at the head of the convoy jumped on an explosive device. Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon, ” a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The defense and security forces have launched a” relief “operation and have undertaken a search of the area,” said the government.

Semafo, a Canadian gold producer based in Montreal, has two operations in Burkina Faso, the Boungou mine in the east, and the Mana mine in the west of the country. The company offered its condolences “to the families of the victims” and expressed “its strong support for the security forces of Burkina Faso,” according to a statement.

The Burkina Faso government has asked the mining companies this year to make special arrangements for the movement of its employees, according to sources close to the mines.

Nearly 700 dead in 5 years
Two deadly attacks had already targeted convoys of Boungou mine personnel and their escorts in August and December 2018, leaving 11 dead in total.

But the record of the attack on Wednesday makes it the deadliest perpetrated in Burkina Faso since the beginning of the spiral of jihadist violence almost five years ago.

On January 15, 2016, 30 people, mostly Westerners, were killed and 71 injured during a jihadist raid on the Hotel Splendid and the Cappuccino restaurant in Ouagadougou, the capital.

On 19 August, an attack hit a military base in Koutougou, killing at least 24 people, the deadliest attack ever suffered by the Burkinabe army since 2015.

In total, attacks attributed to jihadist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, others to the Islamic State movement, have killed nearly 700 people since early 2015, according to an AFP count , and about 500,000 internally displaced persons and refugees. , according to the UN .

Under-equipped and poorly trained, the army, the police and the gendarmerie of this poor country of West Africa are unable to stop the jihadist attacks, which intensified in 2019 until becoming almost daily.

The entire Sahel region, including Mali and Niger, neighbors of Burkina, is affected by the violence of jihadist groups, despite the establishment of a multinational regional force (G5-Sahel) supported by the French force Barkhane and by the American army.

On tour in the Sahel, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, advocated on Monday the patience in the war against the jihadists, while announcing the kick-off of a Barkhane operation in the zone of the three borders Burkina-Mali -Niger.

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