At least 51 soldiers were killed Friday in an ambush by suspected jihadists in northern Burkina Faso, where attacks by "terrorist" armed groups have intensified since the beginning of the year.
This ambush in the Sahel region bordering Mali and Niger, the provisional toll of which was announced by the army on Monday, could prove to be the deadliest ever committed against the security forces since that of November 2021 in Inata (north ): 57 gendarmes were then killed after unsuccessfully appealing for help.
Monday evening, "43 new bodies were found, establishing the provisional balance sheet at 51 fallen soldiers", indicates the Burkinabè army in a press release. She had given Monday morning a toll of eight soldiers killed.
The army affirms that "the operations continue with an intensification of the air actions which made it possible to neutralize a hundred terrorists and to destroy their materials. This figure is added to the sixty terrorists neutralized since the beginning of the response".
The army staff "invites all of the National Armed Forces to maintain the mobilization which has enabled us to achieve important victories in recent weeks", according to the press release.
The staff also calls "the populations to the sacred union around the Defense and Security Forces in these difficult times. It is together that we will defeat terrorism".
A "moving" military patrol was the victim of a "complex" attack on Friday between Deou and Oursi (Oudalan province) in the Sahel region, the army said on Saturday without giving an assessment. She added that "intense fighting" had pitted the members of the military unit against "an armed terrorist group".
Deadly raids attributed to jihadists have multiplied in recent weeks in Burkina. With Friday's attack, nearly 200 - civilians and military - have died in the past two, according to an AFP tally.
Burkina Faso, the scene of two military coups in 2022, has been caught since 2015 in a spiral of jihadist violence that appeared in Mali and Niger a few years earlier and which has spread beyond their borders.
The violence has claimed more than 10,000 lives over the past seven years - civilians and soldiers - according to NGOs, and some two million displaced.
- Inata's trauma -
Captain Ibrahim Traoré, transitional president resulting from a coup d'etat on September 30, 2022, then set himself the objective of "reconquering" the approximately 40% of Burkinabe territory controlled by jihadist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and to the Islamic State.
But since he took power, attacks attributed to these groups have only increased.
In an attempt to curb this worrying trend, Captain Traoré, who demanded the departure of French special forces from Ouagadougou, intends to forge new "win-win" partnerships with new countries, including Russia.
The Burkinabè army is under-equipped and he seeks to acquire military equipment from any country willing to supply it.
However, he denied any presence of mercenaries from the Russian company Wagner, whom Westerners accuse of being present in Mali, also led by soldiers from putschs and who drove Barkhane's French forces out of their country. According to the Malian authorities, the Russians present on their territory are "instructors".
“We have our Wagners, it is the VDP (Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland, civilian army auxiliaries) that we recruit. They are our Wagners,” he said in early February.
Shortly after taking power, he launched a campaign to recruit these auxiliaries who are also paying a heavy price in the anti-jihadist fight. Out of an estimated need of 50,000, 90,000 have registered.
The most deadly attack ever committed in Burkina, remains to this day that committed in Solhan in June 2021, which killed 130 to 160 civilians, according to the reports.
But the attack on the gendarmes of Inata, left to their own devices in November 2021, had caused deep trauma within public opinion and the armed forces.
It occurred shortly before the first coup d'etat of January 2022 which overthrew elected President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, accused of "incapacity" in the face of the jihadists.