Monday, 13 May, 2024

Deadly ambush, daring jailbreak jolt Burkina Faso

At least 12 people have been killed in an attack on northern Burkina Faso’s Dori-Gorgadji road, while armed men have freed around 60 prisoners from a jail in Nouna town.

Burkina Faso is battling a conflict that has spread from neighbouring Mali over the past decade.
Burkina Faso is battling a conflict that has spread from neighbouring Mali over the past decade. (AFP Archive)

An ambush by armed men in northern Burkina Faso has killed at least 12 people, including 10 army auxiliaries and two civilians.

"Yesterday morning, a food convoy escorted by volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) was the target of an ambush on the Dori-Gorgadji road," a security source said on Sunday.

A local official confirmed to AFP news agency that 10 backup troops had "fallen."

In a separate incident, armed men freed dozens of prisoners during an attack on a jail in the country's northwest, ransacking offices and setting vehicles ablaze before making their escape.

The men entered the town of Nouna around midnight aboard 4x4s and motorbikes, brandishing Kalashnikovs and heavy machine guns, two security sources and a judicial source said on Sunday.

They freed around 60 men from the city jail, its entire prisoner population.

No one was killed during the weekend's prison raid, but a volunteer militia fighter was shot, according to security sources. Several of the prison's trucks and motorbikes were set on fire, and its offices were trashed.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

READ MORE:Burkina Faso army: Militants kill, wound dozens of soldiers

Restive region

Armed groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and Daesh have regularly carried out attacks in northern and eastern Burkina Faso since 2015, killing more than 2,000 people and displacing almost two million.

Unrest linked to armed groups also plagues Burkina Faso's West African neighbours Mali and Niger.

The three land-locked countries rank among the poorest in the world and their armed forces are ill-equipped against a foe skilled at hit-and-run raids, ambushes and planting roadside bombs.

In December 2019, Burkina set up the VDP auxiliary force, which is among the units that has suffered most losses.

Recruits are given two weeks' military training and then work alongside the army, typically carrying out surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties.

Frustration over the government's inability to protect citizens has spurred protests in Burkina Faso that culminated in a military coup in January, West Africa's fourth in 18 months after two in Mali and one in Guinea.

READ MORE:Several police officers, soldiers killed in Niger attacks

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