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AHMED OUOBA/AFP or licensors
At least seven people, including four civilian auxiliaries enlisted in the fight against jihadism in Burkina Faso, were killed Monday in an attack in the north of the country, the fifth in a few days in the region.
"A security source told AFP: "Armed men attacked the drilling installations in Tonri Oulo, a locality in the commune of Arbinda in Soum province, in the morning of Monday.
"During the sabotage of the installations, they killed three civilians and wounded three others. Four elements of the VDP (Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland), who tried to counter the attackers were also killed," bringing the death toll to "seven", the same source said. The VDPs, poorly trained and poorly armed civilian auxiliaries of the army, are paying a heavy price in the fight against jihadism in Burkina Faso.
The attack was confirmed by a local official. "We have recorded about ten victims, including seven deaths," the official confirmed, adding that "two other boreholes were sabotaged by the terrorists. "A few weeks ago they had already sabotaged the mobile phone installations, and now they are trying to asphyxiate the town by cutting off all supplies," the source said.
This modus operandi confirms the strategy observed in recent weeks where armed jihadist groups are trying to occupy towns in the north and east of the country. "This consists of isolating strategic towns by cutting off access and communication routes. These towns serve as their rear base," Mahamoudou Sawadogo, a researcher and expert on security issues in the Sahel, told AFP.
In recent days, several deadly attacks have hit the region of Dori, one of the main towns in the northeast of the country, about 100 km from Arbinda. Some 23 civilians and 13 gendarmes have died in these attacks. This is the highest death toll since Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba took office in Burkina Faso on 24 January and overthrew President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who is often accused of being ineffective in the face of attacks.
In the wake of Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso has been caught up in a spiral of violence since 2015, attributed to jihadist movements affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, which have killed more than 2,000 people in the country and forced at least 1.7 million people to flee their homes.