The Burkinabè army claimed Sunday that it killed 32 « terrorists » during two days of operations in the north of the country, plagued by jihadist attacks increasingly frequent and deadly.
The announcement came about 10 days after a spectacular attack in the east of a convoy of the Canadian mining company Semafo, attributed to jihadists and which killed at least 38 people. This attack had traumatized the country.
« The vigorous reaction of the unit, followed by a vast raking of the forest of Yorsala, caused intense fighting that lasted several hours, » said the Burkinabe staff in a statement released Sunday.
« During these clashes, 24 terrorists were neutralized and various materials were recovered » and « a soldier unfortunately lost his life, » he said.
According to the statement, « this operation also freed several women who were held by terrorists and used as sex slaves ».
« Following these clashes and on the basis of precise information, » the army on Saturday conducted « an offensive action in the vicinity of Bourzanga (Bam province), which allowed to neutralize eight terrorists and recover a large batch armaments, ammunition and other materials, « continued the staff.
Women in jihadist hands were released and a Burkinabe soldier was killed in clashes, the army said.
« Maintain the momentum »
AFP was unable to confirm this independent assessment, but during the night, security sources warned that intense fighting was underway, citing at least « 10 to 15 deaths among terrorists ».
The Chief of Staff « congratulates all units for their unwavering commitment and urges them to maintain this momentum ».
At the beginning of February, the Burkinabè army announced that it had neutralized « 146 terrorists » during a vast operation in the North, but this assessment was considered by many observers to be not very credible.
Under-equipped and poorly trained, the army, the police and the gendarmerie of this poor country of West Africa are unable to stop the jihadist attacks, which intensified in 2019 until becoming almost daily.
Until the popular uprising that drove him out after 27 years of power in 2014, former president Blaise Compaoré was playing regional mediators, regularly negotiating with jihadist groups.
Meanwhile, he had disadvantaged the army for the benefit of his presidential guard, now dissolved. Scalded by a failed coup in 2015, the new civilian power has not immediately taken the measure of the Islamist danger.
In total, attacks attributed to jihadist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, others to the Islamic State movement, have killed nearly 700 people since early 2015, according to an AFP count, and about 500,000 internally displaced persons and refugees. , according to the UN.
The French army is present in Burkina with a base of 200 men special forces in Kamboinsin, a suburb of Ouagadougou. Some 4,500 French soldiers are also deployed in the Sahel, as part of Operation Barkhane, and they intervene more and more regularly in Burkina.
In September, at an extraordinary summit in Ouagadougou, the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) promised a billion-dollar plan over four years to fight jihadism. These sums were intended to strengthen the national armies fighting the jihadist groups (Mali, Niger and Burkina) and thus prevent the spread of attacks on neighboring countries.