Over 20 civilians killed in attack in northwest Burkina Faso

The West African country has seen a wave of attacks in recent years as insecurity has spread across the Sahel.

Map of Kossi province in Burkina Faso

Armed attackers have killed at least 22 civilians in northwest Burkina Faso, the latest deadly incident in an uptick in violence in the region.

The latest attack occurred late on Sunday into early Monday morning, according to local officials, in the province of Kossi, about 55km (34 miles) from the border of restive central Mali.

“The provisional death toll of this terrorist attack is 22 dead, several wounded and material damage,” regional governor Babo Pierre Bassinga said in a statement.

Military forces have been deployed to the scene and measures are in place to host those who fled to nearby cities, the statement added.

The situation in Mali has worsened since a separatist movement began in the country’s north in 2012. In recent years, armed groups, including those linked to ISIL (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda, have jockeyed for influence in the resulting security vacuum in Mali’s central regions, while exacerbating communal tensions driven by climate change.

The insecurity has increasingly spread into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, as well as the wider region.

Meanwhile, analysts say military coups in Mali and Burkina Faso have caused institutional insecurity that has allowed the violence to continue. The fighting has displaced more than 1.85 million people in Burkina Faso alone and killed thousands across the Sahel.

In June, an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediator said authorities controlled just 60 percent of Burkina Faso.

More than 530 violent incidents occurred between February and May in the country, which was more than double the level during the same period of 2021, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Last month, armed men killed at least 100 civilians in another rural district in northern Burkina Faso last month, the deadliest attack the country has seen in at least a year.

In an attempt to stem the violence, last month the military government announced the creation of two military zones, including one near Kossi. They gave civilians two weeks to leave their homes in advance of military operations, prompting concerns it would worsen the crisis of displaced people.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies