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Benin orders investigation after attacks that killed 15 civilians in north

Benin orders investigation after attacks that killed 15 civilians in north
A police officer and a soldier from Benin stop a motorcyclist at ...   -  
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Marco Simoncelli/Marco Simoncelli


Benin's President Patrice Talon has ordered an investigation after attacks that killed some 15 people in the north of the country, the government announced, denouncing "criminal" acts.

Beninese authorities rarely communicate on attacks in the northern part of the country, where the army is trying to repel incursions by jihadist groups based in neighboring Burkina Faso.

According to local and security sources, contacted by AFP, seven villagers in the Kerou commune had their throats slit by armed men on Monday night, and many others disappeared following this attack. The next day, the commune of Banikoara, also in the north, was attacked and three civilians were killed, according to the same sources.

On Wednesday, during a press briefing, government spokesman Wilfried Houngbedji offered, on behalf of the President, his condolences to the "grieving families" after "this tragedy".

He did not give details of the attacks but said: "When these criminals try to gain a foothold and do not succeed because there is a response (...) from the defense and security forces, they try to demoralize the population by carrying out reprisal operations of this nature, so macabre.

They want to "shock the people and make them believe that the security response is not up to the task and that they would have their salvation only by rallying to their cause," he added.

He later confirmed to AFP that about 15 people had died.

"This drama shows us that it is a permanent challenge," he said at the press briefing, lamenting that "a failure in the chain of operations" prevented the security forces from deploying "in a preventive manner.

Thus "the president has asked that a fact-finding mission be dispatched to the field to assess the real circumstances of the occurrence of this tragedy," he added.

The northern regions of Benin, Togo, and Ghana are under attack and incursion by jihadist groups that thrive in the Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso, and seek to move south.

Togo recently claimed that about 100 civilians and 40 military personnel had been killed since the first jihadist attacks in late 2021.

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