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Dozens killed in Burkina Faso attacks

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) – Around 40 people, many of them civilian volunteers with the army, have been killed in suspected extremist attacks in Burkina Faso, local sources and security officials said yesterday.

In the northern region of Sahel, around 25 people were killed in two assaults on Saturday, including 13 members of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) volunteers, a leader of the force told AFP.

In Kompienga, near Burkina’s southeastern border with Togo and Benin, about 15 civilians were killed on Saturday when their convoy was attacked while under VDP escort, a security source in the region said.

A local inhabitant said three VDP volunteers also died in this attack, and called for help for the wounded, which he said numbered nearly a dozen.

In another raid overnight on Saturday, assailants carried out a coordinated attack on police and gendarmes’ posts in Faramana, near the frontier with Mali, causing two wounded, a security source said.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has been battered by extremist raids since 2015, when insurgents began mounting cross-border attacks from Mali.

More than 2,000 people have died and almost two million fled their homes.

Mutinous troops, angered at mounting losses, ousted elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January.

The new strongman, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, said tackling the violence and restoring security is his top priority.

After several weeks of calm after the coup, extremist attacks resumed, and scores of civilians and members of the security forces have died. Some of the heaviest losses have been suffered by VDP.