40 soldiers, civilian volunteers killed in Burkina Faso ambush


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Unidentified assailants have killed 40 people and wounded 33 others in an attack on the army and volunteer defence forces in northern Burkina Faso, the government said in a statement.

Al Jazeera reports that the provisional death toll report is that 34 auxiliaries from the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) and six soldiers were killed. It said that 33 more people were wounded and in “stable condition” in the regional capital Ouahigouya’s university hospital.

A security source said that several dozen militants were killed during a reprisal attack.

The region is not far from the border with Mali, an area overrun by fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and ISIS, who have reportedly carried out various attacks in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso has seen an escalation in attacks, with Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) reporting that since 2018, violent clashes in the Sahel have led to the internal displacement of over 1.5 million people. MSF said that Burkina Faso is the epicentre of multiple humanitarian crises. On 8 February 2023, MSF withdrew from the country, following an attack in which two of their staff members were killed.

Burkina Faso has also experienced a political upheaval with two coups in 2022. Burkinabé military officer, Ibrahim Traoré, who has been the interim leader of Burkina Faso since 30 September 2022, ousted interim president Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba who took over the country’s leadership, also in a coup just eight months earlier. Mr Traoré is the world’s youngest currently serving state leader at the age of 34.

Mr Traore said in a statement that a group of officers who helped Mr Damiba seize power in January 2022, had decided that the leader was no longer able to secure the country, which has been battling a mounting Islamic insurgency.

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