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    Burkina Faso: Jihadists Kill 35 People In Military Base Attack

    Two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) of the French Army patrol a rural area in northern Burkina Faso last month (Picture: AFP) 

    Suspected Islamic militants have attacked a military base and a town in northern Burkina Faso, killing 35 civilians. All but four of the dead civilians were women in the assault in the town of Arbinda, near the country’s border with Mali. The army then attempted to repel the attack in several hours of deadly clashes, which left seven soldiers and 80 militants dead. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has declared two days of national mourning for the landlocked West African country. The militants attacked on Tuesday morning, riding to the scene on motorbikes before opening fire. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the massacre but a number of Islamic extremist groups, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State, are known to operate in the volatile area.

    An army spokesman said: ‘A large group of terrorists simultaneously attacked the military base and the civilian population in Arbinda.’ They said 31 of the civilian victims were women and 20 soldiers had also been injured. President Kabore added: ‘The heroic action of our soldiers has made it possible to neutralise 80 terrorists. ‘This barbaric attack resulted in the death of 35 civilians, most of them women.’

    Burkina Faso was once relatively stable but has descended into serious unrest in the last few years due to a home-grown insurgency and jihadists moving from Mali. More than 700 people have been killed and 560,000 internally displaced, according to the United Nations. Attacks in the past have previously targeted the north and east of Burkina Faso, although the capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times and a number of foreigners killed. Earlier this month at least 14 people died after gunmen opened fire inside a church in the east of the country. An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in November killed 37 people.

    Attacks have intensified this year as the under-equipped, poorly trained Burkina Faso army struggles to contain the Islamist militancy. Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, having started when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012. The Sahel region of Africa lies to the south of the Sahara Desert and stretches across the breadth of the African continent. The G5 group is made up of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, whose impoverished armies have the support of French forces as well as the UN in Mali.

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