Seven soldiers were killed and others wounded or missing after their patrol was ambushed in northern Burkina Faso, the centre of a five-year-old jihadist insurgency, security sources said on Thursday.
The troops were attacked on Wednesday between Tin Akoff and Beldiabe in Oudalan province, which borders Mali and Niger, one source said. “The provisional toll is seven soldiers dead,” the source said, with others wounded or missing.
Another source confirmed the attack, adding that an operation had been launched “to hunt down the assailants” and find the missing soldiers.
Jihadists began making incursions into northern Burkina from neighboring Mali in 2015 in a conflict that has left more than 1,200 people dead and forced more than one million to flee their homes. The most recent attack was in September, when four soldiers were killed.
Burkina is to hold presidential and legislative on November 22. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who is seeking a second term, launched his campaign last week by promising to restore peace.
But his critics say he has failed to confront the growing jihadist threat. Residents of almost 1,500 villages out of some 8,000 in the country will not be able to take part in the vote because of the insurgency.
In September, parliament passed a law allowing the results to be validated even if polling does not take place throughout the country. Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries and its armed forces are under-equipped.
Last year, 4,000 died in jihadist attacks or ethnic violence fomented by the insurgency in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, according to the UN.