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Tributes paid to five soldiers killed in a clash with jihadists in Burkina Faso

Photo of one of five soldiers killed in fighting with jihadists in northern Burkina Faso   -  
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Sophie Garcia/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press

Burkina Faso

Five soldiers and 30 "terrorists" were killed in fighting in northern Burkina Faso after the suspected jihadists attacked a military base in large numbers on Saturday, the army said.

Troops in Bourzanga, a town in the northern region which has been bearing the brunt of a jihadist revolt, "vigorously retaliated against an attack on its base on Saturday", the army said in a statement.

The attackers were "terrorists who came in very large numbers" and heavily armed, the statement added.

Five soldiers were killed in the fighting and 10 others were injured.

"The provisional toll is at least 30 terrorists killed," with others wounded, the military headquarters said, stressing that the enemy "had to retreat in the face of the firepower" of the troops on the ground and the intervention of the air force.

Some of the attackers merged with the civilian population to escape the military, leaving behind weapons, motorcycles and communications equipment.

Burkina Faso troops also seized an armoured vehicle and armed pickup trucks used by the attackers, according to the statement.

Burkina Faso has been battered by jihadist raids since 2015, with movements linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

More than 2,000 people have been killed and 1.8 million displaced.

On Thursday, 11 soldiers were killed in a suspected jihadist attack in eastern Burkina Faso.

The new head of state, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, says he has made the security crisis his "priority".

Damiba overthrew elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January, accusing him of being ineffective in the face of jihadist violence.

After a relative lull when Damiba took power, a surge in attacks has claimed almost 200 lives.

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