Twelve Burkina Faso soldiers were killed and eight wounded in an ambush by suspected rebels near the West African country’s border with Mali, the government said.
Communications Minister Ousseni Tamboura “strongly condemned the barbaric attack” on Sunday near the village of Dounkoun in Toeni commune in Sourou province, the latest in a series both near the borders with Mali and Niger.
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“Members of the ground forces and the rapid intervention force GARSI were ambushed” in the northwest Boucle du Mouhoun region, Tamboura said in a statement on Monday. “The provisional toll indicates 12 soldiers fallen and eight wounded.”
The statement added seven soldiers went missing after the ambush but were found at dawn on Monday, including one who had been wounded in the thigh, though he was in stable condition.
“Clean-up operations are under way and the wounded have been evacuated,” said the minister, who is also a government spokesman.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said in a tweet that “we continue to wage without concession the war the obscurantist and barbaric forces have imposed on our country”.
The president also paid “tribute to our fallen soldiers in Toeni and prompt recovery for the wounded”.
A security source told the AFP news agency that the attack happened about 3pm (15:00 GMT), adding vehicles had been destroyed or captured during the ambush sprung by what he called rebel fighters.
“It’s certainly revenge for the death of two jihadist leaders who were active in the same Boucle du Mouhoun region, who were neutralised [on Saturday] by the armed forces,” the source added.
He identified the two leaders as Sidibe Ousmane, also known as Mouslim, and spiritual leader Bande Amadou, the source said.
They were killed by a special army unit following exchanges of fire between Diamasso and Bouni, in Kossi province, the government said on Sunday in a statement.