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In the news: A deadly 48 hours leaves 50 dead in Burkina Faso

As the country’s insecurity gets rapidly worse, some are suggesting it might be time to try negotiating with the jihadists.

A member of the Koglweogo manages the crowd at a community gathering in the town of Ziniaré
A member of the Koglweogo, a ‘self-defence’ group in Burkina Faso, manages the crowd at a community gathering in the town of Ziniaré. New violence has added to deepening insecurity in the country. (Philip Kleinfeld/TNH)

Three attacks in 48 hours in Burkina Faso have left at least 50 people dead, and underlined the deepening insecurity in the country as it battles a jihadist insurgency.

On Saturday, at least 25 people were killed when unidentified gunmen on motorbikes opened fire at a cattle market in the eastern Kompienga region. “One group searched for those who [hid], while another group pursued those who fled,” a survivor was reported as saying. 

Also on Saturday, 10 people were killed when gunmen ambushed a humanitarian food convoy near the town of Barsalogho, in Sanmatenga province, in the north of the country. The dead included five civilians and five gendarmes, with 20 people wounded and an unknown number missing. The convoy was coming from the Foubé refugee camp, in a region that has witnessed repeated violence.

The twin attacks followed an earlier ambush on Friday that killed 15 people when a convoy of traders in the northern province of Loroum, near the border with Mali, was targeted. The government blamed jihadist fighters.

Attacks by local self-defence groups and extremists linked to so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda have increased dramatically in Burkina Faso, displacing almost 850,000 people and leaving two million in need of humanitarian assistance (see our latest report here). The army has also been blamed for atrocities.

“If it is not yet the apocalypse, Burkina does not seem far from the gates of hell,” an editorial in Le Pays newspaper said on Sunday, and wondered whether it was not “finally time to add dialogue” to the government’s counter-insurgency strategy.

– Obi Anyadike

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