Thirty-three troops have been slained in a fresh violent attack by alleged jihadists on Thursday in eastern Burkina Faso, a Sahelian nation that has been spiraling further and farther into the unrest that first surfaced in 2015.
“The military detachment of Ougarou,” in the eastern region, “faced a large-scale complex attack on Thursday morning,” said an army statement. “Thirty-three of our soldiers, unfortunately, fell with their weapons in their hands, while twelve others were wounded,” it added.
“During the fighting, which was particularly intense, the soldiers of the detachment showed remarkable determination in the face of an enemy that came in very large numbers,” according to the army, which said they “managed to neutralize at least forty terrorists before the arrival of reinforcements.
The deployment of these reinforcements “has enabled the evacuation of the wounded who are currently being treated by the health services,” according to the army.
Security sources said the attackers were “heavily armed” and that “some soldiers are missing”.
The statement said that “the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces salutes the memory of the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty. “He encourages all units engaged in operations to maintain efforts to strengthen the momentum of the ongoing recovery,” the text adds.
The attack comes a week after the April 20 massacre of at least 60 civilians in the northern village of Karma by men wearing army fatigues.
Officially revealed on Sunday, it left “sixty” dead according to a local prosecutor, “more than a hundred” according to representatives of the survivors and residents of Karma.
– “Vile and barbaric acts” –
The government “strongly condemned these despicable and barbaric acts” on Thursday and said it was closely following the progress of the investigation” opened by the prosecutor of the Ouahigouya (northern) high court to “elucidate” the facts and “arrest all those involved”.
The victims of Karma were buried on Thursday evening.
“The administrative authorities mobilized for the burial of the remains of our mothers, our fathers, our sisters and our sons”, that is to say “a hundred people”, Daouda Belem, one of the survivors, told AFP.
He thanked the government for “allowing Karma to bury its dead” and called for collaboration with the gendarmerie in its investigation.
On April 18, at least 24 people, including 20 civilian army replacements, were killed in two attacks by suspected jihadists in east-central Burkina.
On April 15, six soldiers and 34 civilian auxiliaries were killed in the north during an assault on their detachment.
Burkina Faso, the scene of two military coups in 2022, has been caught since 2015 in a spiral of jihadist violence that began in Mali and Niger a few years earlier and has spread beyond their borders.
The violence has left more than 10,000 civilians and soldiers dead over the past seven years, according to NGOs, and some two million people displaced.
Burkina Faso’s transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who came to power in a coup in September 2022, signed a one-year “general mobilization” decree last week, allowing for the requisition of “young people aged 18 and over” to go and fight against the jihadists who are bloodying the country.