Dozens killed in Burkina Faso attacks

Government struggling to contain deadly rebellion that has spread from the West African country’s north to east.

At least 29 people were killed in separate assaults in Burkina Faso‘s troubled north after a food convoy and a transport truck were attacked.

One vehicle transporting people and goods “rode over an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Barsalogho area” leaving at least 15 passengers dead, government spokesman Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said in a statement. Most of the dead on Sunday were traders.

Meanwhile, about 50km away, 14 people were killed after a convoy of mostly three-wheeled vehicles taking food to people displaced by fighting was attacked.

“This drama comes as important security efforts are under way in this region,” a military official said. “Reinforcements have been deployed.”

Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from the city of Kaya, said she spoke to some people in the area of the second attack last week. 

“We could sense the tension and fear. In fact, we found some people who were preparing to leave that area because they heard of attacks on many nearby villages,” she said.

“The situation becomes more volatile the further north you go. The government has deployed troops to this area. They have been carrying out operations, but they are overwhelmed because we are talking about a large territory.”

Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been struggling with an armed conflict since 2015.

The West African country’s army has been increasingly targeted by rebels.

Earlier this month, an attack on a military base in northern Burkina Faso killed 24 soldiers.

The violence, which originated in neighbouring Mali, began in the north but has since spread to the east.

The capital, Ouagadougou, has been attacked three times, including a March 2018 assault on the military headquarters that left eight dead.

A summit of regional heads of state is due to be held in Ouagadougou on Saturday to discuss the security situation.

Violence in Burkina Faso has forced nearly 300,000 people to flee their homes and stopped half a million getting access to healthcare, the UN and the Red Cross said Monday.

“Nearly 289,000 displaced people are living in shelters,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement, adding the number of displaced had more than tripled this year from 82,000 in January.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a separate statement warned “500,000 people have been deprived of healthcare since January due to jihadist violence”.

“Famine and malnutrition constitute a major worry with 1.2 million people facing food insecurity,” ICRC said.

It has provided food aid to 22,000 displaced people and medical assistance to 21,000 people in the first half of this year, it added.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies