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Burkina: Traoré worried about the fate of civilians targeted by jihadists

Burkina: Traoré worried about the fate of civilians targeted by jihadists
Captain Ibrahim Traoré, president of the transition in Burkina Faso, at a ceremony in ...   -  
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Kilaye Bationo/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.

Burkina Faso

The president of the transition in Burkina Faso, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, estimated on Tuesday that a new "phase" had been "triggered by the terrorists", against civilians, a few days after the kidnapping of around fifty women in the north of the country.

"Today another phase has been triggered by the terrorists. On the military side, our men are determined to confront them, so they are starting to attack innocent civilian populations, humiliate them, kill them", declared the president. Traoré during a meeting at the University of Ouagadougou with students from all over the country.

Thursday and Friday, about fifty women were kidnapped by suspected jihadists in two localities north and west of the town of Arbinda (north), according to the authorities of the region. Ground and aerial searches are underway to find them. The UN demanded their "immediate" release.

READ MORE: Burkina Faso: Some 50 women kidnapped in the north by suspected jihadists

Arbinda is located in the Sahel region, an area under blockade by jihadist groups, which is difficult to supply. According to a security source contacted by AFP, "the supply of Arbinda began Tuesday morning", by air.

"There were two helicopter rotations this morning for supplies. It was about time because we have had nothing to eat for months. Just leaves which are also becoming scarce. This morning a few dozen people had started a demonstration to demand this supply before seeing the helicopter," confirmed Souleymane, a resident contacted by AFP.

"We really needed this supply by air. The ideal would be to have a land convoy very quickly because the population is large and relies only on these supplies to hold on and not starve," added Amadou, another resident.

On Tuesday evening, the Burkinabè general staff asked "all those of goodwill to make available to the army, free of charge or at a social price, trucks with drivers for the transport of food and basic necessities. “, in order to “ensure the supply of populations living in areas with strong security challenges”.

READ MORE: Search underway for 50 women abducted in Burkina Faso

Captain Traoré came to power at the end of September during a coup d'etat , the second in eight months, and promised to tackle the jihadist violence which has targeted soldiers but also civilians for several years.

"Since October, the number of attacks has multiplied," he admitted on Tuesday. According to him, the jihadist groups which are rampant in particular in the north and east of the country have "set to work" to "discourage from the start" the new authorities of the transition.

"We are determined to solve this terrorist issue. This war, we did not choose it. Burkina did not attack anyone. We were attacked and we have been defending ourselves since then", he insisted.

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

Nearly a million people currently live in these blocked areas, in the north or east of the country, according to the United Nations.

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