DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — At least 40 members of Burkina Faso’s security forces were killed by gunmen in the northern part of the country, and dozens of others were injured, authorities said Sunday.
Six soldiers and 34 volunteer fighters, civilians who assist the military, were killed near the town of Ouahigouya on Saturday afternoon, northern region secretary-general Kouilga Albert Zongo said in a statement. The 33 wounded were hospitalized in stable condition, he said.
The attack comes amid surging violence in the conflict-ridden country that is linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Thousands have been killed and around 2 million people have been displaced. Earlier this month, at least 44 people were killed by Islamic extremists in multiple attacks in the north.
The violence has divided a once peaceful nation and fueled frustration that led to two coups last year. The new junta leader, Capt. Ibrahim Traore, has promised to secure the country. But attacks are intensifying and spreading as jihadis blockade villages, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from moving freely.
Analysts say that pressure is mounting on the junta as attacks continue.
“Their fan base and Burkinabe people are going to start questioning the regime’s ability to effectively address security issues and stop these large-scale attacks,” said Rida Lyammouri, senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, a Morocco-based think tank.