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Jihadi violence intesifies in Burkina as militants kill nearly 30 in 2 days

Jihadi violence intesifies in Burkina as militants kill nearly 30 in 2 days
An October 30, 2018 photo on which Burkinabe gendarmes are seen in the vehicule in the northern city of Ouahigouya.   -  
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ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP or licensors

Burkina Faso

Twenty-eight people have died in new attacks by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, including 15 who had been abducted at the weekend, the authorities said Tuesday (Jan. 31).

Fifteen bodies bearing bullet impacts were found on Monday (Jan. 30) near Linguekoro, a village in the western province of Comoe, regional governor Colonel Jean-Charles Some said in a statement.

They were among 24 people who were aboard two minibuses travelling from Banfora that were stopped in Linguekoro by armed men on Sunday evening (Jan. 29), he said.

"The passengers, comprising eight men and 16 women, were told to get off", "eight women and one man were released and told to walk to Mangodara," 30 kilometres (18 miles) away, he added.

The two minibuses were then torched and the 15 other passengers taken away.

Separately, 10 military police officers, two members of an auxiliary force supporting the army, and a civilian died in northern Burkina Faso from a "terrorist attack on Monday" in the locality of Falangoutou, the army said.

Escalating insurgency

The attacks mark a further escalation in an insurgency that has beset Burkina for more than seven years.

Violence linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group has killed thousands of people and forced around two million more to flee their homes.

More than a third of the country lies beyond the control of the government, according to the ECOWAS envoy to the nation.

Since the start of the year, at least 77 people have died, according to a toll compiled by AFP from official statements and security sources.

Also in January, 62 women and four babies were abducted as they foraged for food in Arbinda, in the north of the country.

They were rescued by the army several days later at a location 200 kilometres (125 miles) away, according to the state-run media.

French dismissal

Frustration within the army at the mounting toll of security forces triggered two coups last year.

The ruling junta has fallen out with France, the country's traditional ally and military supporter, which last week said it would withdraw its troops at the authorities' request.

Around 400 French special forces are based near the capital Ouagadougou in a deployment dubbed Operation Sabre, part of a broader military presence to fight jihadists across the Sahel region.

Thousands of demonstrators rallied in the capital on Saturday (Jan. 28) to celebrate the pull-out, and some called for Burkina Faso to follow Mali in weaving a close alliance with Moscow.

Relations between France and Mali, the epicentre of the jihadist campaign that erupted in the Sahel in 2012, nosedived after the military forced out the country's elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in 2020.

The junta allegedly brought in Russian paramilitaries, whom Paris and others describe as mercenaries of privately-run Wagner operation.

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