An armed attack that killed between 138 and 160 people, according to sources, again mourned Burkina Faso on the night of 4 to 5 June 2021. This terrorist attack, the deadliest Burkinabè had known, is the latest in a long series that began in 2015. A look back at the most important stages in this Sahelia’s people in chaos and terror.
After being spared jihadist violence, Burkina Faso has been sidelined by the terror and death that radical Islamist groups have ruled in the Sahel for a decade. Since the first combined attacks on the Capuccino restaurant and the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou in 2016, the “land of upright men” has in turn entered a murderous spiral whose end we do not see. The slaughter of the village of Solhan, in the northeast, which took place on the night of 4 to 5 June 2021, represents a new stage in the leap into terror in this country. This killing, which killed between 138 and 160 people according to sources, is the deadliest attack that Burkina has known since the first attacks in 2016.
When asked about the RFI antenna two years ago, Alain Antil, a researcher specializing in security issues in the Sahel, explained that if Burkina Faso had been saved from terrorism under Blaise Compaoré’s government (1987-2014), it was because the latter had “direct links “with jihadist groups he had negotiated with to preserve his country.
Since the overthrow of the former president, Burkina is no longer an exception in the region. This country is now regularly the site of bloody attacks. These attacks are attributed to the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM), a subsidiary of al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (EIGSD), the two major jihadist groups operating in northern Burkina Faso, near the border. with Mali and Niger, although, as researcher Alain Antil reminds us, 80% of the attacks in Burkina Faso are not claimed.
However, in five years, terrorist attacks have left more than 1,400 people dead and more than one million internally displaced. Entire parts of Burkinabe’s national territory are today inaccessible. We remember that the 2020 presidential election could only be held in 85% of the national territory, with more than 1,500 villages out of 8,000 unable to be employed.
2016: stupidity in Ouagadougou
The first attack, the double attack on the Splendid Hotel and the Capuccino restaurant, in the heart of Burkinabe’s capital, left its mark. These attacks, which took place on the evening of January 15 and claimed the following day by AQIM, left 30 people dead, mostly in the ranks of Western foreigners. Unsurprisingly at the time, however, these attacks did not surprise observers, who expected Burkina Faso to become the new target of jihadists, after Niger and Mali. Especially since this country participates in the French military operation Barkhane, launched in the wake of the Serval intervention and aimed at fighting the jihadists in the Sahel. In addition, since the first quarter of 2015, northern Burkina Faso has been the theater of jihadist attacks.
2018: France targets terrorists
On March 2, Ouagadougou was again under fire with armed attacks aimed at the French embassy and Burkina Faso’s armed forces. These attacks caused eight deaths among police: two gendarmes in front of the French embassy and six soldiers at the headquarters, who were hit by a car bomb filled with explosives. According to the authorities at the time, the attack was aimed at the meeting of the G5 Sahel, which hosted the Burkinabè army’s staff building that day.
2019: horror in Yirgou
On January 1, 2019, after the assassination of the village chief in Yirgou, located in the province of Sanmatenga, Fulani was targeted by villagers from Mossi, helped by members of their self-defense group, Koglweogo. On January 12, thousands of people from all communities in Ouagadougou demonstrate to condemn ethnic violence in Yirgou and demand the dissolution of the self-defense group involved in the killings. The organizers of the march also claim that the number of deaths is higher than stated in the official fee and report 72 dead and 6,000 displaced. The government’s record is being challenged by the collective against impunity and stigmatization of societies, which claim on February 1 that the massacres left 210 dead.
2019: Burkina Faso’s gold in the terrorists
It is a particularly murderous year for the Burkinabè soldiers. On August 19, 24 soldiers were killed in an attack on an army base in Koutougou, in the north of the country. The army received another attack in December when the city of Arabinda, near the Malian border, was stormed by heavily armed jihadists. The rise of jihadist attacks on the army is forcing the opposition to demand the resignation of the government, which is judged to be unable to cope with the deteriorating security situation in the country.
In November, 38 people were killed and 63 injured in a bloody attack on a convoy transporting workers from the Boungo gold mine in the east. The attack aims to disrupt, according to specialists, gold activity, which is an important source of income for the country.
2020: civilians are massacred with cold blood
On January 25, Burkina Faso once again mourns the killing of terrorists in the market in the village of Silgadji, in the north of the country. To the 39 people killed during the attack are added the forty civilians killed a week earlier in the villages of Nagraogo and Alamou.
2021: VDP’s major duty on the anti-jihadist struggle
Burkina Faso continues its decline in the abyss of terrorist violence, with the attack attributed to jihadists in the village of Solhan, which according to the latest reports has left between 138 and 160 dead. It is the deadliest attack the country has seen since the beginning of jihadist violence in 2015-2016.
This time the attacks were particularly targeted Volunteers defending the homeland, VDP. Consisting of civilian aid services from the army, this paramilitary body was created in December 2019 with a green light from the Riksdag. The VDPs participate in surveillance, information and protection missions together with the armed forces.