At least 31 soldiers and three army auxiliaries were killed on Monday in an attack by suspected jihadists in northern Burkina Faso, the army announced on Tuesday, with security sources telling AFP that another separate attack had left dozens dead.
"A supply convoy escorted by military units, returning from Djibo", a town besieged for months by jihadists in the Sahel region (north), was on Monday "the target of an ambush" in Namsiguia, in the Centre-nord region, according to a Burkina Faso army statement.
"The fighting, which was particularly violent, caused significant casualties, despite the vigorous response of the units," it added, referring to a "provisional toll" of 31 soldiers and three Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP, civilian army auxiliaries) killed, while "around ten elements are still being sought by reinforcements" dispatched to the scene.
According to the army, "more than forty terrorists have been neutralized".
The army did not mention in its communiqué another attack in the same region on Monday, which, according to security sources told AFP, also left "dozens dead", the majority of them VDP.
"Terrorist groups attacked the village of Noaka" in the Centre-Nord region, "mainly targeting VDP", according to one of these sources.
"We lost dozens of men in Noaka and several are wounded," said a local VDP official. "Several other fighters are still missing," he added.
According to a local resident, "it's a massacre that's taken place in Noaka", estimating that "around thirty" VDP were killed in the attack and mentioning "many wounded". "The valiant fighters, supported by the army, also inflicted a heavy loss on the assailants", he added, referring to "several motorcycles and weapons recovered".
The local VDP leader also reported that another, smaller-scale attack had taken place on Monday in Gayeri, in the eastern Komondjari province, killing four army auxiliaries.
The population of Tanwalbougou (east) had demonstrated the same day in response to the upsurge in jihadist attacks, calling for supplies to their locality, which has been blockaded by armed groups for several weeks, according to local residents.
Burkina has been caught since 2015 in a spiral of jihadist violence that began in Mali and Niger a few years earlier and has spread beyond their borders.
Over the past eight years, the violence has left more than 10,000 civilians and soldiers dead, according to NGOs, and more than two million internally displaced.
Since last September, the country has been ruled by a military junta led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who came to power following a coup d'état, the second in eight months.