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Searches underway to locate 50 kidnapped women in Burkina Faso

Searches underway to locate 50 kidnapped women in Burkina Faso
Women sentenced for genital mutilation sit in the women's quarter yard of the ...   -  
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Burkina Faso

A group of women who were abducted on Thursday and Friday in the north of the country by suspected jihadists are being searched for in Burkina Faso, the governor of the Sahel region said in a statement on Monday.

"As soon as their disappearance was reported, searches were undertaken to find all of these innocent victims, safe and sound," said Lieutenant Colonel Rodolphe Sorgho.

"All means are being implemented, on the ground and air to find these women," a security source told AFP, assuring that "aircraft are flying over the area to detect any suspicious movement.

Some fifty women were abducted on Thursday and Friday by suspected jihadists in two localities to the north and west of the northern town of Arbinda, Sorgho said.

"While they were out looking for wild fruits, these wives, mothers and daughters were unjustly attacked by armed men," he added.

"We think the kidnappers took them to their different bases," a resident of Arbinda told AFP on Sunday.

"This is the first mass kidnapping since the beginning of the security crisis and it will be necessary to manage this situation well to avoid any drama or a recurrence," said a senior officer close to the general staff.

France condemned the kidnapping "in the strongest possible terms" and called for their "immediate release".

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris reaffirmed "its solidarity and its commitment to Burkina Faso".

The commune of Arbinda is located in the Sahel region, an area under blockade by jihadist groups and which is difficult to supply with food.

Nearly one million people are currently living in blockaded areas in the north and east of the country, according to the United Nations.

Burkina Faso, particularly in its northern half, has faced increasing attacks by jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State since 2015. They have left thousands dead and at least two million displaced.

Captain Ibrahim Traoré, the transitional president who emerged from a military coup on September 30 - the second in eight months - has set himself the goal of "recapturing the territory occupied by these terrorist hordes."

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