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Burkina Faso: 50 civilians missing after deadly attack by fighters

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At least 11 soldiers have been killed and 50 civilians reported missing after armed fighters attacked a military convoy.

The 150-vehicle military-escorted convoy was taking supplies to a northern town.

In a statement , the government said the assault took place in the commune of Gaskinde in Soum province, where armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) group have been escalating attacks and seizing territory since 2015.

It said the soldiers, were wounded, while dozens of trucks were destroyed.

Violence has raged in Burkina Faso since Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba seized power in a coup in January, toppling the West African country’s elected leader and promising to rein in the armed groups.

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As in neighbouring countries, fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have stoked the unrest, even after Damiba earlier this month sacked his defence minister and assumed the role himself.

In the northern Soum province, armed groups have blockaded several areas, so government convoys and airdrops have delivered essential goods to trapped civilians.

Lionel Bilgo, spokesperson for the government, called the attack “cowardly and barbaric”.

“The provisional toll is that 11 bodies of soldiers have been found,” he said. “About 50 civilians are missing and searches are ongoing.”

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A security source told the AFP news agency that the toll could be as high as 60.

“Practically the entire convoy was burnt,” a source told the agency.

A video shared online showed people scrambling to retrieve goods from at least a dozen blazing trucks and a plume of smoke stretching across the scrubland.

Another video showed crowds welcoming vehicles from the convoy that had survived the attack and made it to the town of Djibo.


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