Death toll rises in Burkina Faso attack, with dozens of civilians killed

The death toll from an attack on civilians and military in northern Burkina Faso has risen to 80 people, the government said in a statement on Thursday.

The attack occurred on Wednesday when Islamist militants raided a civilian convoy escorted by military police near the city of Arbinda, the latest in a series of attacks in the Sahel region of West Africa this month.

Fifty-nine civilians, six pro-government militiamen and 15 military policemen were killed, the government and army said on Thursday. The initial death toll was estimated at 47 on Wednesday.

Security forces said 80 militants were also killed.

Violence in the Sahel, a barren strip of land that borders the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, has escalated in recent years despite the presence of thousands of UN, regional and Western troops.

The violence, centered in the border areas of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, has killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions since 2018.

On Monday, gunmen killed 37 civilians, including 14 children, in an attack on a village in Niger. An attack in central Mali on Thursday killed 15 soldiers.

The Sahel was thrown into chaos by the 2012 seizure of northern Mali by militants linked to Al Qaeda.

France intervened the following year to push them back. But armed Islamists have regrouped and expanded their operations, making large areas of the Sahel ungovernable.


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