Bloodshed and kidnappings in Burkina Faso

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17 November 2021

Assaults by armed militants continue in the “tri-border area”

On Sunday, 31 October, five policemen were killed in Sourou province, according to the Ministry of Security. The government sources report that, on the following day, 14 more civilians were targeted near the market town of Markoye. Of them, ten were killed and four kidnapped. On the same day of the Markoye attack, President Roch Kabore told reporters that the nation would 'get through this whirlwind of violence together, or not at all'.

The targeted zones flank the hostile “tri-border area”, where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet, and where violence has been raging since 2012 due to continuous clashes between armed groups. The conflict is having a devastating impact on the population, indeed, in the past two years alone, more than 1.3 million Burkinabe residents have been forced to displace, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCHR). The main armed groups responsible for the attacks are Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) allegedly affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). 

Despite the presence of a regional counter-terrorism force and French troops, the radical violence surrounding Burkina Faso is proving hard to stop. This is also borne out by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) which reported a 300% increase in civilians’ deaths from May to August, compared to January to April 2021. The reasons for the onslaught against civilians remain difficult to clarify. According to some analysts, including ACLED senior researcher Heni Nsaibia, this is due to a combination of factors, such as revenge on armed civilians fighting alongside the army and lack of cohesion within the JNIM group. 

Concerns are exacerbated by food insecurity, which threatens some 600.000 people, according to the UN. ‘If the situation does not improve, protests against the government will increase’, according to Jacob Yarabatioula, professor of sociology at Joseph ki Zerbo University.


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Author: Eleonora Lombardi; Editor: Jasmina Saric

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