At least 30 people, including members of the military, were killed by jihadi rebels in northern Burkina Faso, the government said Thursday.
Eleven civilians, 15 soldiers, and four volunteer defense fighters, were killed by “terrorists” in several villages outside the town of Markoye in Oudalan province near the border with Niger on Wednesday, Aime Barthelemy Simpore, assistant to the minister of defence, said in a statement.
The civilians were killed at midday and the military and volunteers were ambushed four hours later after being detached to secure the area, the government said. At least 10 jihadi rebels were killed and the area has been secured by the army, with air and ground patrols conducting sweeps.
The town of Gorom Gorom, approximately 40 km (25 miles) from Markoye, has been inundated with people fleeing the attack amid fear that the violence was going to spread, an aid worker in the area told The Associated Press. He insisted on anonymity for his safety.
Violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State is increasing in Burkina Faso, killing thousands and displacing 1.3 million people. In June, at least 11 police officers were killed when their patrol was ambushed in the north and earlier that month at least 160 civilians were killed in the Sahel region, the deadliest violence in years.
This week’s violence comes on the heels of a deadly attack in neighbouring Niger along the border with Burkina Faso less than a week ago, where jihadis killed at least 19 people, 18 of whom were members of the military.
The escalating extremist violence will be difficult to bring under control, according to conflict analysts.
“International and regional efforts to combat militancy face serious challenges in keeping militants at bay,” said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.