New attacks kill 18 in troubled Burkina Faso

Eighteen people, two of them volunteer militias, have been killed in new attacks by jihadist suspects in Burkina Faso, local residents and a security official told AFP on Thursday.

According to local residents, seven civilians were killed and four wounded on Monday in the village of Toabin in the central-eastern province of Bulgu.

Other sources report that on the same day, 11 people were killed in two attacks in the northern province of Lorum.

A representative of the VDP volunteer militia said that the organization’s local headquarters in Transaligo came under heavy shelling, killing two militia members and two civilians.

Hours later, a “terrorist attack” on the village of Khargo killed seven people, the official said.

The official AIB news agency reported that about 20 attackers were “neutralized” by airstrikes on the same day that their group retreated in the Tulfe area.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso, is fighting a jihadist insurgency that spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015.

NGOs estimated that more than 10,000 civilians, military personnel and policemen were killed.

At least two million people have fled their homes, and about 40 percent of the country’s territory is effectively under jihadist control.

Frustration with the military over its inability to quell the insurgency fueled two coups last year.

Despite promises by the latest junta to recapture lost territories, attacks have increased since the beginning of the year, with the death toll now averaging dozens a week.

In the strategy of the junta, much attention is paid to the Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP).

Its members are civilian volunteers who have completed two weeks of military training and then work alongside the army, usually on surveillance, intelligence gathering or escort duties.

Since its inception in December 2019, the WRT has suffered heavy casualties, being targeted by jihadists on motorcycles, through roadside bombs, ambushes, and drive-overs.