In one of the deadliest attacks by jihadis in West African country Burkina Faso, 35 people were killed on Tuesday. The terrorists had launched a double attack on a military base and the civilian population in Arbinda town, and most of the victims, 31 in total, were women. Seven soldiers also lost their lives in the attack, while 80 terrorists were killed in the retaliatory action by the military helped by the air force.
Burkina Faso, which borders Mali and Niger, has been regularly targeted by Islamic fundamentalist terror groups operating in Africa, and hundreds of the people have lost their lives in the violence which had spread to the region in 2015.
The army chief of staff said, “A large group of terrorists simultaneously attacked the military base and the civilian population in Arbinda.” Talking about the incident, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said, “The heroic action of our soldiers has made it possible to neutralise 80 terrorists. This barbaric attack resulted in the death of 35 civilians, most of them women.”
The attack took place on Tuesday morning and had lasted several hours. Dozens of terrorists on motorbikes opened fire on a military base and the civilian population nearby. The civilians, mostly women, were collecting water when they were attacked. Later the military forces drove the attackers back following an intense battle that lasted several hours near the border with Mali. Ground troops and Air Force fighter jets participated in the battle.
The president has declared 48-hours national mourning after the incident. The national flag will at half-mast and all Christmas celebrations have been cancelled.
No terror group has taken responsibility for the attack so far, but past violence in the country has been blamed on al-Qaeda and ISIS groups. Islam is the dominant religion in Burkina Faso, but there is a sizeable Christian minority of about 20 percent. Muslims account for more the 60% of the population.
William Lawrence, visiting professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School said that the attacks are part of the plan to establish an Islamic state. He said that this is the worst attack ever in Burkina Faso. He added that terror activities in the country started only in 2015, but their frequency and lethality have been increasing.
“This is a group led by someone from Burkina Faso, whose recruiting fighters from Burkina Faso, even though they launch attacks from Mali. And while they are trying to sow chaos and they are under pressure from the French, their main goal is to liberate this area and establish an Islamic State, not unlike what we saw in north Mali in 2012,” he said.
Islamic terrorists operating in Mali has come under intense pressure from French forces, as a result, they have spilled across the border into Burkina Faso, spreading their terror activities in the landlocked country. They frequently conduct hit-and-run operations on motorcycles.