Youth leader

41 dead in an ambush in Burkina Faso, including a volunteer chef

Burkina Faso government says 41 people were killed last week after an ambush in the north of the country blamed on Islamist extremists

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Islamist extremists killed 41 people last week in an attack in northern Burkina Faso, including the prominent leader of a group of volunteers assisting the country’s army, the government said.

Government spokesman Alkassoum Maiga announced two days of mourning following the deadly ambush against a convoy in Loroum province on Thursday.

Among the victims was Soumaila Ganame, also known as Ladji Yoro. Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said Ganame died for his country and “must be a model of our determined commitment to fight the enemy”.

The death of Burkina Faso’s most important volunteer leader has created a sense of panic, said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

“While Ganame achieved the legendary status of popular counterinsurgent who played a central role in mobilizing (volunteers) in Loroum and Yatenga, he was also the embodiment of the absent state,” he said. he declares.

Violence in this once peaceful West African country is escalating as attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State mount. More than 50 gendarmes were killed in November in the largest attack on the country’s security forces in recent memory and at least 160 civilians were massacred in the Sahel region in June.

Even though Burkina Faso’s security forces carry out the most operations compared to its neighbors in the volatile Sahel region, the army is overwhelmed, putting out one fire at a time, Nsaibia said.

Volunteer fighters have been accused of committing human rights violations against those suspected of fighting with the jihadists, but have also come under attack.

The government faces calls to resign amid its failure to stop the violence, with weeks of protests taking place in November. In response, the president sacked his prime minister this month.

———

Mednick reported from Malakal, South Sudan.