Attack in Burkina Military Outpost Kills 32, Heightens Pressure on Government

Burkina Faso’s government says at least 32 military police were killed Sunday in the latest attack on security forces. Analysts say security in the West African country has worsened this year and the opposition has threatened to hold protests if the situation doesn’t improve. 

The dawn raid took place at a military outpost in war-torn Soum province on Sunday morning. While initial reports said 19 security force personnel and one civilian were killed, the government announced Monday night that the death toll had jumped to 32.

The attack is the latest in a long series against security forces and civilians in recent months and represents the deadliest single attack on Burkinabe personnel this year.

Burkina Faso has been battling armed groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaida, as well as local bandits, since 2015. While 2020 saw a decline in violence, this year it has spiked again. 

Mahamadou Sawadogo, a Burkinabe security analyst, said this attack is proof that the terrorists are able to bring the fight to the army and are able to lead complex attacks. He said it’s also a sign that the peace which was beginning to emerge in that area is disappearing and there will be more and more attacks there.

Late last year, negotiations took place between security forces and terror groups in the nearby town of Djibo. The sides reached a detente, but it now appears to have fallen apart.

Analysts say the Inata base, where Sunday’s attack took place, is one of the last bases in Soum province which is still operational, which points to a severely overstretched military. 

While Burkinabe security forces struggle, analysts say the government is reluctant to accept international military support, unlike other countries involved in the Sahel conflict, such as Mali and Niger, which have accepted French military personnel. 

On November 9, Eddie Komboïgo, Burkina Faso’s opposition leader, called publicly for “urgent measures” by the ruling party to stem the violence and threatened to organize widespread protests next month if nothing is done. 

Andrew Lebovich, an analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations, said, “Politically, this is a very complicated time for Burkina Faso’s president, in part because he made the security situation and the fight against terrorism a really important part of his campaign for reelection and so there’s been quite a bit of anger among communities, among opposition parties.” 

Speaking to VOA, Lassane Sawadogo, executive secretary for the ruling MPP party, called for patience. 

He said these are painful events for the whole nation and the war against terrorism is a long one, but that the government, with President Roch Kabore, is determined to do as much as it can to overcome terrorism. 

Kabore is the first president in Burkina Faso’s history without a military background.

 

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