Authorities in Burkina Faso have declared a two-day period of mourning after suspected militants killed at least 41 members of a government-backed civilian militia in the country’s northern desert this week.
A column of civilian fighters from the Homeland Defense Volunteers (VDP), a group the government funds and trains to contain Islamist insurgents, was ambushed Thursday as it swept through a remote area of Loroum province, said on Saturday. authorities.
It is one of the heaviest day-long casualties the civilian militia has suffered to date and came a month after an attack on a gendarmerie post killed 53 people – the worst has been striking against the Burkinabè security forces for years.
“In this painful circumstance and in tribute to the valiant VDP and to the civilians fallen in defense of the homeland, the President of Burkina Faso decrees a period of national mourning of forty-eight hours, from Sunday,” said the spokesperson. word of the government Alkassoum Maiga in a press release. declaration.
Authorities have faced repeated protests in recent months over their apparent inability to curb a four-year Islamist insurgency that has left thousands dead in Africa’s Sahel region and forced more than a million people to flee their homes.
Militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have inflicted heavy losses on the region’s armies, killing soldiers in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali almost every week in scattered attacks.
The Burkinabé army said around 100 militants were killed earlier this month in a joint offensive involving hundreds of soldiers from Burkina Faso and Niger, who also seized firearms, improvised explosive devices and hundreds of motorcycles.
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