release of 62 kidnapped women

Radio-Television du Burkina (RTB) showed images of the women released and brought back to Ouagadougou on Friday evening, January 20, evoking a ” operation “ of the armed forces, without further details. These women and their babies had been kidnapped Thursday and Friday around Arbinda, in the Sahel region (north) when they left their village to get food. In Burkina Faso, this massive kidnapping is a first since the start of the civil war in 2015 between armed groups and the central authority.

According to security sources, these abducted women were found in the Tougouri area, in the neighboring region of the center north, 200 km further south, before being airlifted to the Burkinabe capital in the evening where they were welcomed by army officials.

Blockade of jihadist groups

“Their debriefing will allow us to learn more about their captors, their detention and their convoy”, says one such source. Searches, land and air, had been launched to find them.

Part of the country, in particular the Sahel region where Arbinda is located, has been under blockade by jihadist groups for several months and the localities are hardly supplied with food, which pushes the inhabitants to leave their villages to find food.

On Thursday, Burkina Faso had been bereaved by a series of attacks in several regions of the north and north-west of the country, killing around thirty people, including around fifteen Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP), auxiliaries of the army, according to several security sources, joined on Friday.

Repeated attacks

A first attack targeted a VDP outpost in Rakoegtenga, a town in the northern province of Bam, killing six of them and a woman, said a local VDP official.

Further west, in the province of Nayala, a “ambush” took place “against a convoy escorted by soldiers and VDPs on the Siena-Saran axis”added the same source. “A dozen other VDPs and a civilian fell in this second attack”said the official and a dozen people were injured, some seriously.

In the province of Sanmatenga (centre-north of the country) a mixed team made up of soldiers and VDPs was “taken apart” in Zincko, indicates another safe source. “A dozen terrorists were neutralized (killed, editor’s note). Unfortunately, four civilians also perished”, says this source. Finally, in the evening, further south, armed men raided the town of Sanaba, in Banwa province, killing eight civilians.

Two million displaced since 2015

The town of Sanaba is located a few kilometers from Solenzo, whose army had announced the reconquest at the end of December against jihadist groups. It was in Solenzo that the president of the transition, captain Ibrahim Traoré, had delivered his end-of-year message. Friday evening, the authorities of Ouagadougou had not reacted to this series of attacks.

Burkina Faso, particularly in its northern half, has been confronted since 2015 with increasing attacks by jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. They left thousands dead and at least two million displaced.

In Burkina Faso, the putschists stir up the rejection of France to gain the upper hand

Captain Ibrahim Traoré, transitional president resulting from a military coup on September 30 – the second in eight months – has set himself the goal of “the reconquest of the territory occupied by these hordes of terrorists”. In recent months, the authorities have repeatedly affirmed their desire to strengthen their ties with Russia, particularly in the fight against jihadists. France, which has a contingent of some 400 special forces in Burkina, is increasingly contested.

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